The Other Plays
The published version of George Ryga’s hit play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe is widely available as a best-seller. Yet the work of one of Canada’s best known playwrights, canonized by critics and studied by students world-wide, remains largely absent from the Canadian stage; Ryga’s very reputation as a dramatist is an anomaly. This anthology, then, is a challenge, even a provocation, to examine Ryga in light of the other plays that constitute his substantial dramatic oeuvre. How was it that one of Canada’s pioneering playwrights became an outsider to the very theatre he had been instrumental in creating?
As a self-proclaimed figure of exile, as an “artist in resistance,” Ryga criticized issues of Canadian culture in numerous instances—particularly its colonized nature, even turning on the very theatre that had earlier nourished him. Employing disruptive elements such as flashbacks/forwards, poetic speeches, songs, sound motifs and changes of setting and weather, Ryga gives his plays a sense of restless movement, even a loss of control. His characters may be physically and spiritually trapped by their colonial uncertainties, but they have great capacity to envision a different tomorrow. It was a vision of tomorrow that, with the sole exception of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, the theatre of Ryga’s day had no wish to share.
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AGENT ALLAN Angelica asked BELL Canadian CAPTAIN NEVADA CHORUS COMMANDER dance DANNY Danny Baker doctor DOLAN dream DUKE earth Ecstasy of Rita ELENA enters exits eyes face father FRANZ George Ryga girl goddamned gonna GOYDA GRANPA GUZA hands harmonica HARRY head hear hell HEPHAESTUS INDIAN IRMA JANICE JESS JOSE KIOSK KUBRICK LARRY laughs laughter leave light LINDA listen live look LOWERY MARCEL Mister morning mother moves NANCY never night offstage OLD LEPA once pain PARACELSUS PEARL PERSON play POET POLICEMAN PROMETHEUS rises Rita Joe rock music ROSSINI Ryga Ryga's SARAH SCENE SECOND DOCTOR SHEFFIELD shouting singing sleep smiles song sound speak stage STANLEY stares STEFAN stop Summerland SUSAN talk TEACHER tell Thafs theatre There's things THIRD DOCTOR town turns UNCLE voice VOLCANIC walk WEBB Whafs Wild Strawberries woman WOMAN-ANGEL WORKER write