Bah Humbug! brings the holiday spirit to SFU Woodward’s

This unique take on A Christmas Carol focuses on the economic disparities in our city

As a storyteller and musician, Jim Byrnes is a perfect fit for the lead role of Scrooge. (Photo courtesy of SFU Woodward's)

By: Tessa Perkins

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a classic story with heart-warming holiday season themes of redemption and gratitude. SFU Woodward’s has teamed up with Vancouver Moving Theatre and Full Circle: First Nations Performance Society to present the eighth annual Bah Humbug!, an East Vancouver version of A Christmas Carol. This holiday favourite compares Victorian era London and present day Vancouver.  

     James Fagan Tait, who is a Jessie Award-winning actor as well as playwright and director leads this annual tradition. The production is full of a variety of musical genres and local touches such as the projections of artworks by Strathcona-based Richard Tetrault. His images of back alleys, ravens, and East Vancouver houses provide the context for this production.

     Juno-Award winner, blues musician, and storyteller Jim Byrnes stars as Ebenezer Scrooge, but in this retelling he is a pawn shop owner on East Hastings. Scrooge faces spectres of the past, present, and future who emerge from the Coast Salish land beneath the city to tell tales of Vancouver’s history, present struggles, and future potential. The story is infused with social commentary, compassion, and ultimately redemption.

     Although the tale is over 150 years old, Dickens’ story is just as relevant today, especially when seen from the context of the Downtown Eastside and the growing economic disparities in our society. Vancouver is a wealthy city, but the Downtown Eastside is known as the poorest postal code in Canada. This production asks the question, “How did a neighbourhood full of rich history and strong community become a neglected source of shame?” Acknowledging the need to support their surrounding community, all proceeds from Bah Humbug! support the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival. As Bah Humbug! reminds us on their event page, Dickens said, “Charity begins at home and justice begins next door.”

The production is appropriate for all ages and mixes traditional holiday tunes with a diverse array of folk, pop, gospel, rock, and blues music.

Bah Humbug! will be co-presented by SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs and Vancouver Moving Theatre, in partnership with Full Circle: First Nations Productions from December 7 to 16 at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre. For more information, click here.