“It’s so important that people come to see this play because it doesn’t sit in a negative place. We raise these serious issues to try to process them,” says Valerie Methot, director, playwright and set and sound designer of REWIRE.
Created in collaboration between industry professionals and youth, REWIRE addresses the causes of negative stress including grief, poverty and sexual assault in youth.
REWIRE premieres May 1–4, 2019 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.
Using theatre as a tool
“The methodology is all about using theatre as a tool to process trauma,” says Methot.
That methodology came to Methot when she was completing her masters of Fine Arts at UBC.
She created a play called Treated with Tango, a production she used to honour her friend who died of AIDS.
After receiving a positive response from the audience, Methot was inspired to take that artistic methodology and tailor it to work with youth.
After taking her proposal to the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, she created the Roundhouse Youth Theatre Action Group (RHYTAG) and the charitable arts organization, Some Assembly.
Together RHYTAG and Some Assembly raise awareness about the issues youth face by getting youth and industry professionals to work together to promote dialogue.
Working together to tackle issues
“REWIRE started with conversations I was having with youth writers about an issue that many people face, which is stress,” says Methot.
“Youth [were] given the chance to bring up their ideas and write in collaboration with professionals: we have script consultants, people who help with the acting process, people who go over the script, so it is from both sides,” says Devana Petrovic, an actor and writer, who stars in the play.
“Some people were talking about video games, and how going into that fantasy enables people to just forget about their daily negative stress, and just enjoy that amazing feeling of being in that fantasy world,” says Methot.
As a result, REWIRE takes place on the night of a total eclipse where a major video game event is set to happen.
The play features youth, aged from 13-years-old to 22-years-old.
“The range of what’s considered a youth is very broad, so getting the perspective of a 13-year-old compared to a 22-year-old is completely different,” says Petrovic.
She explains that bringing these ages together brings about different perspectives and ways of thinking so there is a diversity of dialogue.
“It makes for a beautiful production,” says Petrovic.
Petrovic, who is in last year of high school, got involved with RHYTAG after watching her sister perform in their plays.
“It’s great to have this platform to bring up stuff that I care about, and bringing awareness to things is very rewarding,” she says.
Petrovic plays a character named Hope who was sexually assaulted at a party while being intoxicated.
“When creating this character, I wanted to bring up the topic of sexual assault and educate people about consent and boundaries,” she says.
During the making of the play, a clinician from Vancouver Coastal Health came in and facilitated a conversation with the writers about grief and sexual assault.
“REWIRE promotes normalizing dialogue about these issues, it also promotes the importance of community support and positive action,” says Methot. “We want to educate people about the importance of these issues so that we can promote prevention.”
When doing research for the topic of sexual assault, Methot and her staff found there weren’t any mandatory classes that educate on the issue.
As a result, after every performance, REWIRE will hold talk-back sessions and facilitate post show workshops with audiences, says Methot.
There will also be resource materials, from the WAVAW rape crisis centre, being given out to audience members after each performance.
As a way to incorporate education about sexual violence and prevention into the school curriculum, Methot and her staff will take all the information that comes from these sessions and create a proposal for the BC school system.
“This play is to be the first step to promote dialogue about the importance of normalizing this conversation,” says Methot.
For more information, please visit www.someassembly.ca.