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Workshop for youth teaches the art of interviewing

Participants will also become skilled in using recording equipment
Chop Theatre will be hosting a four-day program for youth ages 13 to 17 in Whitehorse in June where participants will learn how to use recording equipment while interviewing others. (Courtesy/

Amy Kenny

Yukon Arts Centre

They’ve got questions and they’re hoping you’ve got answers — if you’re between the ages of 13 and 17.

That’s the age range Chop Theatre will be working with when it visits Whitehorse in June for its Summer Youth Theatre Experience.

The Vancouver-based theatre company will teach participants (ages 13 to 17) in the four-day long program how to use recording equipment in the process of interviewing others. At the same time, facilitators will be listening carefully to the answers. That’s because Chop plans to develop those responses into a new audio play that focuses on the varied relationships teens have to their local playing fields.

“We’re asking questions about what are the official and unofficial uses of a field,” says Anita Rochon, artistic director at Chop. “But we’re really asking questions about belonging and where do you feel like you belong? And how do you create a sense of belonging?”

Whitehorse won’t be the only community reflected in the finished piece. Chop is visiting a number of cities scattered around the globe. So far, Chop has been to Dublin, Ireland, and Richmond, British Columbia. Rochon says the company also plans to visit Hong Kong.

When it does come to Whitehorse this summer, it won’t be Chop’s first visit. The theatre company has worked with the Yukon Arts Centre in the past. That’s part of what made Rochon want to come back for this play in particular. She felt strongly about including a northern perspective in a play about place.

“The people that we met (in Whitehorse), there’s a level of insight and love for the land and we thought it would be so exciting to hear teens’ perspectives on that. Immediately when we were coming up with this project, Whitehorse was one of the first places we thought of.”

Rochon says she’s already noticed huge differences between the two larger cities Chop has been to — Dublin and Richmond.

A lot of the youth who participated in Ireland were born and raised in the country. They had a long-rooted sense of home. In Richmond, a larger number of participants were born in other countries. Sometimes they were living in B.C. with an aunt, an uncle or a family friend. Rochon says those kids had a more fractured sense of home in Canada. In both however, there was a sense of colonization, though it took different forms in Canada versus Europe.

“Of course we know Canada’s history, but Dublin, with their complicated history with England, that was a really different perspective to speak to teens there,” says Rochon. “And then versus Vancouver, where you might have a relative newcomer to Canada negotiating their relationship to living on Indigenous lands. It’s pretty complex.”

That makes it a lot to pack into a week, which is one of the reasons the Summer Youth Theatre Experience is paid. Though participants will gain an education from the experience (learning how to use technical equipment, interview techniques, podcasting, editing and storytelling) they’re also, essentially, going to be actors in the resulting audio play.

To ensure a serious commitment, and to fairly compensate participants for their time and insight, youth will be paid as working actors, at the rate of $20 an hour.

Not that they need to have a theatre background to apply. There’s not a particular profile Chop is looking for at all when it comes to choosing the eight positions available.

“I think the thing that we’re looking for the most is an openness of spirit, of curiosity around an interview process,” says Rochon. “What we’re really focusing on is how to interview somebody so that you get to the real heart of the matter. What kind of questions you need to ask in order to get to the answers that you’re hoping to discover from them … but what we’re most passionate about is leading the teams through a process that leads them to find their own burning questions within the questions that they want answered around belonging.”

It’s about interviewing others, but it’s also about figuring out what your own questions are.

The Summer Youth Theatre Experience takes place in Whitehorse at the Old Fire Hall from June 26 to 29.