Play pays tribute to Margaret Laurence

The character of Hagar Shipley, the heroine in Margaret Laurence’s novel, The Stone Angel, will come to life at Centre Stage next month.

The character of Hagar Shipley, the heroine in Margaret Laurence’s novel, The Stone Angel, will come to life at Centre Stage next month.

Dorian Kohl will stage Portrait of a Lady: A Tribute to Margaret Laurence on Saturday, Oct. 1 during the eighth annual George Ryga Award Evening.

The performance is based on Ryga’s adaptation of Laurence’s novel.

Kohl has staged the performance since 1978 and has grown to appreciate the character of Shipley.

“She’s so in pain over the things she didn’t do,” Kohl said. “She was passionately angry a lot of the time.”

Kohl begins the story portraying the elderly Shipley, but goes back to earlier moments of her life.

While Kohl said playing the role is an honour for her, she added that it is also a difficult role.

“It requires a lot of preparation, emotionally as well as physically,” she said. “I gave myself over to that character.”

Each time she performs the play, she reconnects with the character.

She said there are lessons to be learned from the novel and from the character of Shipley.

“This is what happens when you suppress and oppress your true feelings,” she said.

Still, despite the bleakness in the story, she sees some hope as Shipley becomes more aware of her life by the end of the story.

The George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature will honour one book from a short list of five.

Gabor Gasztonyi’s book, A Room in the City, published by Anvil Press, is a collection of photographs, poetry and prose about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Working With Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and The Cowichan Sweater, by Sylvia Olsen and published by Sono Nis Press, is about the women who make the Cowichan sweaters.

Invisible Chains, by Benjamin Perrin and published by Penguin, deals with human trafficking.

The Tiger, by John Vaillant and published by Knopf Canada, is about tiger hunting in eastern Russia.

One Story, One Song, by Richard Wagamese, published by Douglas and McIntyre, is a series of essays about one person’s place in the world.

The short list was released on July 27. The books were chosen from 57 submissions.

Tickets for the evening are available at Martin’s Flowers in Summerland, 250-494-5432 and at The Dragon’s Den in Penticton, 250-492-3011.


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