Director and playwright Valerie Methot expertly weaves together humour and the struggle of owning one’s identity in a bold and original tale The Identity Bureau, presented by Some Assembly Theatre Company.
“The Identity Bureau promotes inclusion, equity, access, respect for oneself and others, kindness and support,” Methot says. “Each person has the right to be who they truly are in an equitable society that allows everyone to reach their full potential.”
In collaboration with Diverse Metro Vancouver Youth, The Identity Bureau will be performed Apr. 28 – May 2 at Roundhouse Performance Centre where audiences of all ages can witness the world premiere of this unapologetically bold existential work for no cost.
The Identity Bureau displays a world set in the future where identities and traits are assigned to all citizens, hence the title of the play, and the chaos that shortly ensues in this flawed system and society. It’s the last day citizens can make identity updates and pay fines before the big system overhaul.
One defining aspect of this work is its diversity. In the process of script research, Methot queried students Grades 6–12 about the importance of identity, which was then shared with a team of youth writers and theatre professionals. What is seen on stage is the accumulation of a wide range of perspectives and contributors of various identities. This is evident through the main cast, a diverse group who play characters of different upbringings, backgrounds, cultural heritage and so forth.
Additionally, The Identity Bureau will resonate within anyone who has been treated unfairly or disrespectfully because of their identity, as Some Assembly Theatre Company mirrors and validates these struggles perfectly.
While creating this play, Methot most struggled with capturing the fluidity and complexity of identity, of who one really is. She reflects upon how the loss of her mother and a youth participant affects her own identity and her very definition of the word.
“There is a lot of emotion attached to identity. I have deeply experienced that identity continues on at the core and that love is the key that connects all,” she says.
As a director, creator, designer and the artistic director of Some Assembly Theatre Company, Methot’s main objective is always to bring hope, positive social change and community connection. This company began as a project spurred by the death of her close friend during her time studying at UBC and has now blossomed into a well respected organization with national and international recognition.
To this day, Methot is still stunned to see that with every production and addition to her team, the company continues to grow alongside her. Methot is tremendously grateful towards all who have helped her build this company from the ground up, which took a lot of passion, perseverance, commitment and self-growth.
Some Assembly Theatre Company aims to build the public’s appreciation of the arts, as well as a supportive community where diverse youth and professional artists are provided the opportunities to thrive, learn and grow. Youth audience members have been particularly touched by this company for representing and reflecting many of their own struggles, emotions and experiences.
The company is currently in its 23rd year of operation and is the recipient of the City of Vancouver Youth Award for outstanding contribution to the youth community and the Deryck Thomson Award for exceptional contribution to community building and well-being.
“I believe if we work together in a meaningful way, learn from each other and
use theatre to communicate the complexities of what it is to be human, then Some Assembly Theatre will continue to change my life and the lives of others,” Methot says.
Despite the pandemic causing much vulnerability for the theatre arts industry, Methot is confident and optimistic in what the future holds. She has already begun writing grants for her upcoming project next year, to reach Some Assembly Theatre Company’s 24th year and beyond.