The Ecstasy of Rita Joe
The Construction of Culture and the Culture of Construction: A Significant Opening Scene in 'The Ecstasy of Rita Joe' College
The opening scene of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga uses Brechtian staging techniques, characters, and dialogue, to introduce the theme of man's dominance over nature. Here, the stage itself can be interpreted as representing the idea of all stories, histories, laws, and cultures, are constructions of man. The magistrate, who physically and visually lords over the stage high in his chair represents the laws of white society within the boundaries of the city and in contrast Rita Joe represents the natural world and the indigenous culture that is trying to survive within these parameters.
Perhaps the first thing that the audience can see is the staging of the play. There is a circular ramp which "dominates" the stage (p.27). It sweeps around behind the magistrate's chair and forces the focus into the center. This concentrated focus gives both the chair, and who will sit in it, much power and emphasis. The next thing the audience can see is that the curtain always remains up.This exposes all the inner workings of the play which are normally hidden from the audience. This allows us to literally "see behind the curtain" and acts to deconstruct the stage and storytelling environment. In doing so, Ryga asks the audience to...
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