Events will mark Ryga anniversaries

If successful, a proposal to stage George Ryga’s classic, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe will take place this year.
Ken Smedley, artistic director for the George Ryga Centre, says the production would help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first presentation of the play at the Vancouver Playhouse on Nov. 23, 1967.
The play has roots in Summerland and at the Ryga Centre.
“It was written right here in this house,” notes Smedley.
He says in addition to the play’s big anniversary, this year will also mark the 20th anniversary of Ryga’s death, which was on Nov. 18, 1987.
The anniversary presentation of Ryga’s play will not only recognize this incredible piece of literary work, but will also pay tribute to Ryga himself and recognize his passing. Smedley says he would like to see if the Vancouver Playhouse will be involved with the production presentation.
Another 40th anniversary Smedley would like to recognize would take place in 2008. In 1968 Bill Henderson and the Collectors collaborated with Ryga on the music for his play Grass and Wild Strawberries. The play showcased at the Vancouver Playhouse in 1969 and a record was released as a result of the production.
Following the play, the Collectors emerged as Chilliwack during the summer of 1969.
Smedley says the collaboration between Ryga, Henderson and the Collectors took place right in the George Ryga house.
Plans for the celebration in 2008 are still in the works.