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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Theatre: Bruce the Musical @ The Russian Hall


An original two-act musical drama, Bruce – The Musical recreates key events in the life of Bruce Eriksen, the late founder of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA), and the individual most responsible for transforming the image of Vancouver’s lowest-income neighbourhood from Skid Road to residential community. It is a story of tragedy and triumphs, told with humour, action, human drama and song.


Writer Bob Sarti in a huddle with Director Jay Hamburger
Photo: Adam Abrams


The play is a blend of historical characters (Eriksen, Harry Rankin, Libby Davies, Jean Swanson) and representative characters (older single men and working people trying to survive and maintain their dignity, Chinese elders in a strange new land, politicians grappling with difficult issues - and you can expect a couple of SRO hotel cockroaches too).

The play chronicles events in the period 1973-76, when Eriksen overcame his addiction to alcohol, went on to become an ironworker on the Knight Street Bridge project and then fought successfully to make the beer parlors and hotels of the Downtown Eastside safer for the old loggers and other retired resource workers who lived there.
Bruce was written by past Sun Newspaper Reporter Bob Sarti, with lyrics by Sarti and music by Bill Sample (recipient of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame award) and Earle Peach. It features a professional and semi-professional cast of nine, under the direction of Jay Hamburger, artistic director of Theatre In the Raw Society, a professional company which has a long history of commitment and work within the east side of Vancouver and to social justice issues – “Giving Exposure to Voices Seldom Heard” since 1994.

Community members will be admitted at low or no cost. Preview Night Pay-What-You-Can will be on Wednesday, November 5 and a 2-for-1 Matinee November 9, 2008.

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