Youth Take Centre Stage to Shed Light on Homelessness.


The Access to Music Foundation will present an original piece of work developed by street-involved youth  actors to convey the crucial message; No-One is Disposable.

Beginning Saturday night, November 7th, The Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island will play host to Death in a Dumpster: The Musical.

This is a world premiere of an original musical based on a short play by noted Vancouver-based anti-poverty activist and playwright Sheila Baxter that explores and contextualizes the root causes of homelessness. Baxter has given her blessing to the new version, saying “I am so thrilled that this is happening. Too many die of homelessness. We must, through the arts, bring awareness and make change”.

The work has been collaboratively written, composed, and will be performed by a group of street-involved youth actors, whose raw skill has been honed through mentorship, encouragement and guidance from distinguished professionals including composer Neil Weisensel, most recently of Vancouver Opera’s Stickboy fame. Weisensel himself notes that “this is a very strong and devastatingly good piece of music theatre. The (youth) writers are to be commended”.

The play follows the tragic story of Danny, who comes to Vancouver from the Maritimes in search of his mother, who abandoned him when he was young. Finding himself broke and homeless, Danny takes shelter near a dumpster, where he meets a host of characters including Daisy, the bag lady who forces herself to forget, Jack, the irascible alcoholic with a penchant for listerine and Josie, the transgender sex-worker looking for a way out.

The collaborative project has been built upon the exceptional talents of eight street-involved youth, who unilaterally have expressed greater courage and direction since becoming involved. “These youth have all faced difficult challenges” says Access to Music Foundation’s CEO Elka Yarlowe, “But we have seen a hugely positive change in these youth since they have become involved with ‘Death In a Dumpster’. The arts provide a first point of entry for youth to access services which will allow them to transition away from the streets and thrive”.

Directions Youth Services, who provide free meals, a detox and a drop-in centre as well as other services, were crucial in getting this project off the ground. Directions are one of BC’s few youth service agencies that provide arts based activities for youth on a regular basis.  Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, they facilitated initial script meetings between Access to Music, mentors and the youth collaborators and enabled initial rehearsals to take place on site at their Burrard Street address.

Other people attracted to the project include members of celebrated Canadian band Spirit of the West, international stage director and theatre educator Joe Hinks, award-winning filmmaker Colin Andrew Ford, who is creating a documentary alongside the production which will chronicle the growth within the youth involved and the challenges that they have overcome, and long-time Symphony Violinist and Youth Outreach Co-Ordinator Carolyn Cole amongst other notables from music and theatre.

Access to Music Foundation is proud to present Death In a Dumpster: The Musical. The show will open on November 7th 2015. Additional performances take place November 11th and 14th at 8:00 p.m.

Opening night tickets are $50 and will gain patrons access to a special, post-show VIP gala celebrating Directions 10th Anniversary. General admission is $20. All shows are at Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island. Doors open at 7:30.

Tickets can be purchased at

You can find out more about the project at



To help support the production, you can donate to our crowdfunding page:

About Access to Music: Access to Music Foundation has been providing barrier free creative tools and opportunities to under-served public and Aboriginal schools and at-risk youth populations across BC since 2007. Contributions of over $250,000 worth of instruments to public school music programs have benefitted close to 9,000 students from Delta to Haida Gwaii. Songwriters of a New Generation (SONG), and QSONG for Queer and allied youth has given 200 young musicians, ages 14-24, the opportunity to advance their music skills through the guidance of mentors. Their newest project, “Artist in the Classroom” will place professional musicians in a 4 month residency in inner city schools to work with hundreds of students who are experiencing poverty, bullying, and are most likely to be affected by gang activity.

Access to Music Foundation is a small but highly effective charitable organization with a mandate to provide BC’s youth with the tools to thrive through music education and creation. The Foundation’s mission is to provide long term music and arts programming that are delivered within a therapeutic context where youth can regain self esteem, learn job related skills, and find personal agency.


access to music logo




Leave a Comment

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial