Although Vancouver is ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, the real-estate boom and subsequent housing crisis makes it easy to forget that a house is not always a home.
The Some Assembly Theatre Company seeks to remind Vancouverites what a city is at its heart: a community.
Written and performed by youth actors, Home centres on a local diner that provides a safe and dynamic meeting space for a group of teens to be themselves. At the diner, youth socialize and work through dark realities of abuse and isolation together.
Richmond actor Brogan Ho, 20, is no stranger to Some Assembly’s productions. As a youth veteran, Home marks her fourth year of participation.
“It has taught me a lot about professional development and all the different ways of showing respect to people that you’re working with. Important lessons that as a teenager I didn’t really get in school,” Ho told the Straight in a phone interview.
One of 12 writers and performers, Ho plays the role of Ashlyn, a regular at the diner who has been recently diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Her character is drawn to the diner because it is an environment that also respects social boundaries, Ho says.
“In the past I often touched on things that were personal to me, so this role is a way of branching out and seeing things from someone else’s point of view,” she says.
Methot spearheaded the Roundhouse Youth Theatre Action Group in 2002 with a strong desire to create bridges between youth and adults. The mentorship program became an outlet where professional artists could work with youth to bring the plays to life based on issues that concerned them, Methot says.
The program then developed into the Some Assembly Theatre Company, of which Methot is cofounder.
“I started this project because I firmly believe in promoting youth voices,” Methot says. “I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday and I remember the feeling of not being allowed to speak in some situations because of my age. I feel like it’s my responsibility to provide a forum for youth to share what’s important to them.”
The six-month process for Some Assembly begins in an unusual way. Instead of intimidating cold-call auditions, anybody can join, and the only requirement is commitment to the schedule.
The collaboration begins with a “meeting agreement” where all group members share what’s important to them in order to feel comfortable embarking on the creative process.
This year, Home is a kind of “microcosmic version of the world,” mirroring the Some Assembly project itself, says Methot.
“The play begins with the First Nations female managers facilitating a diner agreement which involves the patrons talking about how they want people treating each other with respect,” Methot says.
In light of Canada 150+ and the need to move together toward truth and reconciliation, Methot and Ho both hope the play leaves the audience with a feeling of connection to their communities.
“The play presents youth as proactive, taking a stand in the face of something scary. It combats the stereotype of millennials always being on their phones in that you see very smart, strong youth engaged with their community,” Ho says.
Home will be performed at the Round House Community Centre from May 3 to 6.