Festival to celebrate Ryga’s legacy

Festival to celebrate Ryga’s legacy

Renowned playwright lived in Summerland

It will be a celebration of the arts as numerous events are planned to mark the Ryga Festival in Summerland on the Labour Day weekend.

The festival, first held in 2016 as the Marginal Arts Festival, was a tribute to George Ryga, a renowned Canadian playwright, novelist and screenwriter.

Ryga lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987.

Many of his works, including his most famous play, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, were written from his house on Caldwell Street.

This year, a variety of events and workshops have been scheduled.

“We’ve increased the range of events a little more this year,” said Heather Davies, artistic director for the festival.

Among the events this year are a musical adaptation of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, a folk concert, theatre performances, music and spoken word performances by poets, comics and storytellers.

Outspoken!, a presentation of spoken word performances, will be held at the Summerland Arena Banquet Room on Thursday, Aug. 30.

The musical adaptation of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe is written by Canadian composer Victor Davies. A concert version, featuring a cast of rising stars and accompanied by piano and a local choir, will be held Friday, Aug. 31 at Centre Stage Theatre.

A concert by Juno Award winning musician Stephen Fearing will be held Saturday, Sept. 1 at Centre Stage Theatre.

In addition, the Summerland Centre will present Inspired By.

This exhibit has paired writers with visual artists.

A total of 74 pieces, featuring writing and visual work, will be displayed together at the gallery.

While Ryga’s work included some poignant social commentary and criticism, the festival has more celebratory tone.

Davies describes the festival as “a cultural B12 shot for the community.”

She said the events and presentations show a diversity Ryga would have appreciated.

“George was so wide-ranging in how he expressed things,” she said.