Remembering the fantastic Jay Hamburger, founder of Theatre in the Uncooked

Every night time of theatre commenced with the director—my father Jay Hamburger—reading a poem to the viewers. I don’t forget observing him step onto the stage with his unruly beard and, in a voice that stuffed the home, thank us all for showing up.

From the viewers, Jay’s opening terms held a extraordinary mixture of enthusiasm, curiosity, and humour. This kind of a heat greeting, no matter if on the stage or the road, characterised approximately each individual come across of his life.   

Jay was a poet, theatre director, and radio host. He used the very last 30 many years of his life developing extraordinary performs that celebrated the range and energy of his local community on Vancouver’s east facet. Jay died of pancreatic cancer on March 26 surrounded by household in the dwelling he so dearly liked. He was 76 many years old.

Jay was born in New York Metropolis on July 18, 1947. He initial stepped onstage as Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the age of 12. At 20, Jay wrote a appreciate poem whilst learning theatre at Carnegie Mellon College. The poem, titled By My Aspect, would turn out to be lyrics for the strike musical Godspell. He would later on donate the royalties from the track to a medical center in southern Alabama.

Inspired by the beatniks, Jay invested the next 10 years composing poetry, founding and performing in travelling theatre troupes, and partaking in political activism, such as protests against the Vietnam War. In the early ‘80s, Jay was arrested handing out anti-war poetry at the Rocky Flats nuclear arms plant in the vicinity of Denver. He was sentenced to group services educating theatre to small-earnings youth. He was additional than happy to comply.

All-around this time, Jay started earning outings to Canada to see his mother, the author Edith Iglauer, who was living in Backyard garden Bay on the Sunshine Coastline. Before long Jay found himself residing on the Coast, way too, where he commenced partaking in environmental efforts.

At a protest encampment amidst the old-development forest of the Carmanah Valley, Jay fulfilled my mom, the artist Atty Gell, in 1988. As a result commenced a life-extended partnership. Jay and Atty were being afterwards arrested at the historic Clayoquot Sound logging protest in 1993.

By 1994, my mom and dad experienced moved to East Vancouver and I was born. That identical yr, Jay launched Theatre in the Raw out of a storefront cafe on Business Drive. The community-centered theatre company’s motto was “Giving Publicity to Voices Seldom Heard”—an ethos that defined Jay’s innovative function.

From the starting, Theatre in the Uncooked was a local community event and a family affair. Jay had a knack for inviting people today onstage, no matter their history or expertise. Amidst an ever-increasing group of artists and performers, Atty would design stage sets and posters when I sat by way of limitless rehearsals. By the age of 5, I was encouraged to attract posters, way too.   

About the upcoming 30 yrs, Jay would direct and create 17 mainstage productions and around 180 unique 1-functions in equally regular and uncommon venues all over Vancouver and throughout Canada. His productions ranged from new and mysterious performs to classics these as Waiting around for Godot and The Threepenny Opera

In 1999, Jay started the Theatre Workshop at the Carnegie Local community Centre in the Downtown Eastside. For the upcoming eight years, he worked to make resourceful and authentic performs by local writers and inhabitants from the neighbourhood. All through this time, Jay satisfied the writer and activist Bob Sarti, who would go on to collaborate with him on three primary musicals about the community.

Afterwards acknowledged as the Untold Tales of Vancouver, the musical trilogy integrated Bruce the Musical in 2008, about the legendary activist Bruce Erikson and The Raymur Moms in 2014, inspired by the one moms of Raymur Housing Venture who stood up in opposition to company electric power to protect their youngsters and neighborhood.

Together with his neighborhood mentorship and theatre course, Jay was a extended-time host for Vancouver Co-op Radio’s The Arts Rationale and The Uncooked Diaries. For approximately 30 many years, he produced hundreds of exclusive interviews along with dozens of first radio performs for the station. In 2016, he received the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Neighborhood Engaged Arts. 

Upon obtaining the award, Jay claimed: “There is some thing heading on for us on this world that is greater than the violence, hatred, or recessive complications that can encompass. For a possible second, the earth can be moved or adjusted through a poem, or a enjoy, or a piece of audio set out there for the wellness of the neighborhood.”

Jay continued to broadcast community tales on Vancouver Co-op Radio right until the remaining 7 days of his lifestyle. Even with his health issues, he was usually considering of the up coming human being to job interview. His curiosity was unlimited.