Arts festival to feature Ryga’s works

A proposed arts festival will celebrate the works of playwright and author George Ryga.

A proposed arts festival, to be held during the week leading up to Labour Day, will celebrate the works of playwright and author George Ryga.

Organizers of the Marginal Arts Festival are working to bring in music, drama and the spoken word for the proposed festival.

Ryga, who lived in Summerland from 1962 until his death in 1987, achieved international recognition for his works.

His most famous play, written in 1967, was The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, a story of an aboriginal woman in Vancouver.

This was the first time a major playwright in Canada addressed issues about aboriginal people, said Peter Hay, one of the organizers of the festival.

Much of Ryga’s work dealt with those who were marginalized or powerless.

“He didn’t want you to be comfortable,” Hay said of Ryga’s plays.

Ryga’s sons Campbell Ryga and Sergei Ryga, both accomplished musicians, are expected to perform during the festival.

Hay is also working with Ontario playwright Heather Davies, who has created a stage adaptation of Ryga’s novel, Night Desk.

The piece would be presented as a workshop presentation, including an audience discussion.

“It would be like a performance, but it wouldn’t be the finished work,” Hay said.

Hay also hopes to have one or two workshops in the days leading up to the weekend festival.

While Ryga wrote the majority of his plays during his time in Summerland, the community has not staged any of them.

“He’s been completely ignored,” Hay said.

“How do we turn that around? It takes a community to realize this is a fantastic asset to have a writer who was famous.”