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The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: George Ryga
Preface by: Chief Dan George
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 128
Pub. Date: 1970
ISBN-10: 088922000X
ISBN-13: 9780889220003
Cast Size: 5 women, 15 men

About the Play:

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe is a full-length drama by George Ryga, with a preface by Chief Dan George. A lyrical documentary of a young First Nations woman who comes to the city only to die on Skid Row, a victim of white man's violent and paternalistic attitudes towards Indigenous people.

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe tells the story of Rita Joe, a young Shuswap woman who is out of place both in the city and in her own culture. She has left the reservation for the city in search of work, but finds instead that she has embarked on an "odyssey through hell" (in the words of the playwright George Ryga) culminating in her rape and murder on skid row. Commissioned as a work for Canada's Centennial celebrations, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe is easily one of the most moving plays that Canada has ever produced. A poetic drama of enormous theatrical power, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe had a major influence in awakening consciousness to the Indian problem both in whites and First Nations themselves.

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe premiered in 1967 at the Vancouver Playhouse. It was also the first play in English to be presented in the National Arts Centre Theatre in Ottawa in 1969.

Cast: 5 women, 15 men

What people say:

"Scenes of shattering impact, genuine and true, and passages of a purity and intensity that catch you off guard and keep you there. As for author Ryga, his is obviously just the kind of disruptive influence we need." — Washington Post

"…the play still worked. Rita Joe was a landmark in more ways than one. It was—and remains—a play for all seasons and for all peoples." — Vancouver Province

"George Ryga has taken the human experience, which in this case is Canadian only by the accident of destiny, distilled it through his fine sense of compassion and given it to us … as an act of communion in which our own participation is inescapable." — CBC

"I can only say that I sat there for two hours and was profoundly moved by something that tugged far more penetratingly at my heart strings, and far more urgently than any intellectual exercise I may have been willing to submit to…" — Montréal Gazette

About the Playwright:

George Ryga (1932-1987) was one of Canada's most important playwrights, with a broad international reputation. Largely self-taught, he showed early promise when he won a writing scholarship to the Banff School of the Arts. He published his first book of poems in his late teens and earned a living first with hard labour and later in radio broadcasting. In 1967, Ryga soared to national fame with The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, which has since evolved into a modern classic. "More than any other writer," said theatre director John Juliani, "George Ryga was responsible for first bringing the contemporary age to the Canadian stage." He will always be remembered and cherished as one of Canada's most prolific and powerful writers.

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