High school isn’t an easy time in most people’s lives, but youth often find comfort in theatre and music. Dream Catchers, a new play by Some Assembly’s Roundhouse Youth Theatre Action Group Project, transforms issues important to youth into a compelling story about identity, life, and death, and the double standards surrounding sex.
The play tells the story of a group of high-school students struggling to figure out what to do with themselves after they graduate. Edward brags on Facebook about having sex with Michelle, and the characters come to terms with the consequences of this.
Valerie Methot is script and play director for Dream Catchers. But she is intricately involved in every part of the play—writing, auditioning, set design and lighting, and directing—you name it. It is through Methot’s hard work that the voices in the story are able to shine.
Sophie Elder-Labrie, 17, is one of these voices. When she submitted her monologue for the audition, she was one of a number of youth that chose to focus on feminist issues. One of her favourite messages from the play is that feminism doesn’t have to be complicated.
“It’s not like I’m gonna burn a bra in front of everybody to prove that I am a woman and I have rights,” Elder-Labrie says, speaking of the play’s main character, Michelle. “It’s just like she notices that something’s wrong, she feels it, and she’s saying it. She’s just saying it out loud for herself. That’s what I like. It’s just the simplest form of activism.”
Charlotte Doerr-Johnston, 15, believes that the feminist issues are important to take note of. She sees some common themes from the play in her own family.
“My dad lost his job and now it’s mom supporting our family, and I think he feels more guilt about that than he should because he feels like he’s the man and he’s got to do that,” Doerr-Johnston says.
The feminist theme hits home for Methot as well, and she finds it hard to believe that so little has changed since she was in high school.
“Girls in high school, if they kissed guys or had sex, were immediately judged, labelled as, you know, a slut, whereas the guys were congratulated,” Methot says. “And it’s super sad that, 30 years later, it’s still happening. And you know the young women don’t deserve that.”
The RHYTAG functions somewhat differently than a regular theatre company. Instead of auditioning for certain parts, youth are able to write their own parts, and audition for a show with the character that they’ve created for themselves.
“When I started this, I actually hung out in the Roundhouse asking youth if there was a theatre project here at the Roundhouse, what would they want it to look like,” says Methot. “About 99 per cent said that they wanted to work with professional theatre people and they wanted to write their own plays.”
Elder-Labrie has gotten so involved with RHYTAG that she feels like she couldn’t go without it. “It becomes a part of your life for such a long time. It just becomes a part of you,” she says. “So, it would just not feel right [without it], you know? It’d be like you’d be missing something.”
Doerr-Johnston, on the other hand, is just happy to finally be around people she can connect with. “I kind of always felt a little alone and, like, nobody really talked about the stuff I was interested in,” she says, “so, like, coming here and seeing people having passions and being inspired helped too.”
One of the main themes in Dream Catchers is self-identity. It’s something the girls are working on themselves.
“Oh, wow, uh, something in theatre, music, art, writing. I don’t know. Something like that,” stumbled Elder-Labrie, after being asked the dreaded question of what she wants to do after graduation.
Doerr-Johnston feels the same way. “I don’t know. In a career sense, I have no idea actually.”
Dream Catchers runs until Saturday (May 3) at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.