Ciarán Myers is a playwright, director, dancer, and teacher. His plays have been performed in Canada, United States, England, and Scotland. This season he is currently developing new short works with GreenLight Arts, Driftwood Theatre, the Registry Theatre, and the Little Lion Theatre. Some of Ciarán's plays include TOUCH (GreenLight Arts 2018), House of Fun (GLA 2017), Hamburger (Informal Upright Collective 2018), and Hum-Buzz (Informal Upright 2019). He is richly privileged with an MFA in Script Writing from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Ciarán teaches dance and acting to youth and adults in the Region of Waterloo where he lives with his small but mighty young family. He is thrilled to participate in this year's Ryga Arts Festival.
Derek Chan (陳嘉昊) grew up in colonial Hong Kong, studied in Norway, and currently lives and works on the stolen and ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, colonially known as Vancouver. Derek received his BFA in theatre performance from Simon Fraser University. A playwright, director, performer, translator, and producer, Derek has been co-artistic director of rice & beans theatre since 2010. He has also worked with Playwrights Theatre Centre (artistic director apprentice), Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (associate artistic producer), and the rEvolver Festival (guest curator). Derek has been a National Arts Centre English Theatre Artist in Residence (19/20) with yellow objects, a new installation-exhibition in support of the ongoing pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. His play, Chicken Girl (2019/20), won the Sydney Risk Award for Outstanding Original Play by an Emerging Playwright, and was nominated for Outstanding Original Script at the Jessies.
Rice & Beans Theatre Company
Rice & Beans Theatre was founded in 2010 by Pedro Chamale and Derek Chan. Besides Vancouver, rice & beans theatre has also produced original work for audiences in Toronto, Richmond, Nanaimo, and Victoria. In 2018, rice & beans theatre was nominated for a Dora Award for its production of Sik Zeon Tin Haa with Cahoots Theatre in Toronto. In 2019/20, Chicken Girl was nominated for 3 Jessies in Vancouver. rice & beans theatre tells stories of where we come from and where we are going, by ways of experimentation with languages and the theatrical form. rice & beans theatre focuses on the creation, incubation and production of original performances. Through rigorous experimentation, with intimate passion and delicate violence, rice & beans write, adapt, and devise work that is relevant and artistically responsible. We value theatre that is accessible, honest, uncompromising and personal.
We acknowledge that our work takes place on the unceded and traditional territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Roark Critchlow is a Canadian actor and writer. He grew up in Summerland , BC, studied theatre at the University of Victoria and spent 5 years building a theatre and tv career in Vancouver before spending 20 years in Hollywood. There he starred on Days of our Lives, Pretty Little Liars, V as well as playing guest star on over 90 productions. 6 years ago he returned to Summerland to spend time with his family and pursue a writing career in earnest. He has completed one novel, is working on his second and recently formed a songwriting partnership with Chayce Kennedy.
Over the course of his Time at Uvic and then professionally, Roark has performed in 3 plays written by George Ryga , whom he had the pleasure of knowing personally whilst growing up.
Originally from Regina, by way of Peepeekisis First Nation she is now based in Penticton B.C.
Ann is a multi-media artist who for the past 25 years has performed and has had art shows throughout Turtle Island.
Ann is also head of Production and Marketing at Theytus Books, the oldest Indigenous owned and operated publisher of Indigenous voices in Canada.
Discovery is the beauty of music. It reveals itself in layers. Such is the evolution of 2020 JUNO Award winner, Celeigh Cardinal. Following a time-tested path from singing in church to performing in cover bands to writing original material, Cardinal has reinvented herself with each new chapter in her career. With a confident voice and boundless energy, Cardinal owns a stage, connecting deeply with her audience through humour, passion and love. Whether sweetly strumming an acoustic guitar or leading her band in a rocking rave-up, she commands our attention. Her singing is rich and deep with a burnished maturity and a nimble technical virtuosity that wraps itself around notes with a purr, a snarl or something in the middle. With two full-length albums completed, and a future release in the planning stages, Cardinal is poised to expand her profile which already includes awards from the 2020 Juno Awards, the 2018 Western Canadian Music Awards, multiple Edmonton Music Awards, and recently she received two nominations for the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards for Indigenous Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.
“Everything I’ve ever done has put me on this path to exactly where I am right now.”
Celeigh has performed across North America and internationally, including Reeperbahn in Germany, and tours in The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.
As well as her flourishing musical career, Celeigh is the first Indigenous radio personality on Alberta’s own CKUA Radio Network, and she’s the first Indigenous member of CBC Edmonton’s Radio Arts Column, the In Crowd. Creating more opportunities for Indigenous representation in Media and Music is not only essential to Celeigh, it is her inspiration. Celeigh strives to use the space she takes to lift up other Indigenous artists and be/have the representation she desired as a young girl, and the representation she desires for all Indigenous peoples.
Working across forms and borders, queer, contemporary dance+ artist Meagan O’Shea devises “Uplifting, energetic and totally out of the ordinary” performances for living rooms, theatres, public spaces – real and imagined. Examining ideas from unexpected angles, treating the process like a science experiment, she uses her body and the interaction with the audience as test site. Meagan has performed her award-nominated solo works across Canada, in New York, Mexico, Morocco, Spain, Ireland, Finland, Austria, Greece and Germany. Her ensemble improv project, dance like no one is watching, which animates/disrupts public space, has reached 30,000 incidental audience across Canada. Her latest solo show, Vicarious Time, is also a shortfilm. Current works in process: Anatomalia (anatomy+anomaly+femalia) six choreographies set in immersive, installed environments tracking the transformation in healing trauma to find joy; It's My Party, exploring grief and changing life purpose for women in their middle years around the world.
“Off the wall, impossible to categorize, fun” - Montreal Gazette
In 2007 Meagan founded Stand Up Dance as a platform that amplifies her vision and builds capacity to support the work of other artists and communities, as well as her own. Stand Up Dance orchestrates international collaborations, in-situ dance, interactive solo shows, dancefilm, and workshops.
Marin Patenaude’s confessional folk is deeply honest, inspired by the wildness of nature, the messiness of human connection, and the overwhelming desire to run away from it all. Emotional lyrics paired with softly powerful instrumentals craft stories that explore loving and losing, the fragility of the human condition, and stories of a rural upbringing.
The daughter of musical parents and the younger sister of Juno-award winning Pharis Romero, she was raised on folk and country harmonies. While it was a huge part of her upbringing, Marin didn’t initially look to music as a viable career. From landscaping for the rich to running through the woods with her dog, a backpack, and a surveyors map, scrubbing toilets to training horses, she collected many random and interesting skills and experiences to use as songwriting fodder. When travels through other disciplines and passions didn’t last, she made a record; a heavy collection of songs about heartbreak and displacement. A surprising first release, it’s full of gut punching beauty.
Following the release of her self-titled debut in 2016, Marin extensively toured BC’s festival circuit as a solo act, across Canada with Kenton Loewen as part of Dan Mangan’s house concert series Side Door, through Germany and Switzerland as a duo with Cole Schmidt, and worked as a session harmony singer in Vancouver for artists including Khari Wendell McClelland, Sam Tudor, Real Ponchos, CR Avery, Ora Cogan, The Crackling, and many more. She opened for Sarah McLachlan at the 2016 Vancouver International Jazz festival at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, a personal career highlight.
In support of her second album, Marin joined Dallas Green's Toronto based label Still Records. Sight Unseen was produced at Afterlife Studios in Vancouver, mixed by Karl Bareham, and mastered by Jaoa Carvalho. Marin took the reins on production, and enlisted the help of dedicated players she feels very connected to, musically and emotionally. They kept their hearts and the doors open for magical studio surprises, and the finished album reflects that open minded approach to sound.
Sight Unseen shows a louder, grittier side of Marin’s indie folk sensibility. Citing the influence of artists like Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, Sarah McLachlan, and Neil Young, there’s an underlying darkness beneath the clear, free spirited melodies. For Marin, her songs are an extension of self--an opportunity to be as honest and real as she feels, something she has difficulty doing in the so-called real world. It's big and it's not always light. Though she’s a bright personality by nature, she often uses her music as a way to process grief. Her vocals are strong and technically trained, and she's outspoken about the complexities of relationships and the uncertainty of our current political times.
Cam Boyce studied jazz violin at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and currently resides on Vancouver Island. He has studied Eastern European and Balkan music extensively and has travelled Europe many times on his musical journey. Most recently, he scored the music for Serbian independent film Kommunistizki Raj. He also fronts Fanfare, his own one-man band looping act.
Joanna Chiu is a senior journalist for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, and has previously served as bureau chief of the Star Vancouver. Her book, China Unbound, launching Sept. 28, features engaging on-the-ground reporting chronicling China’s dramatic moves to become a dominant global power, with accompanying human rights abuses around the world.
She is the founder and chair of the NüVoices editorial collective, which celebrates the creative and academic work of women working on the subject of China.
Chiu was previously based for seven years in Beijing and in Hong Kong as a foreign correspondent, including for Agence France Presse (AFP) specializing in coverage of Chinese politics, economy and legal affairs for one of the world’s biggest news operations.
She has also served as China and Mongolia correspondent for the top German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, and in Hong Kong, she reported for the South China Morning Post, The Economist magazine and The Associated Press.
Corinna Chong lives in Kelowna, BC, traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx/Okanagan people, where she writes, edits, designs, and teaches in the English department at Okanagan College. She has a BA in English and BFA in Fine Arts from the University of Calgary, as well as an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of New Brunswick.
Her first novel, Belinda’s Rings, was published by NeWest Press in 2013 to strong reviews, and was highlighted as an “offbeat summer read” in The Globe and Mail. She has also published reviews and short fiction in literary magazines across Canada, including Room, The Humber Literary Review, The Malahat Review, and Grain. Her short story, “Kids in Kindergarten,” won the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize. She recently completed her second novel, Bad Land, and is now working on a collection of short stories entitled Porcelain Legs.
Corinna is also committed to engaging in the writing community, especially through guiding and mentoring emerging writers. Over the years she has served on several editorial boards for literary magazines, including Qwerty and The Fiddlehead. She teaches introductory creative writing as well as applied publishing courses as part of Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program, and she is currently the Director for the English department’s student-run literary journal, rygajournal.ca, which honours the legacy of George Ryga.
Moira Dann is a writer, editor, speaker, and current president of the Craigdarroch Castle Museum Society board. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative non-fiction from the University of King’s College and is a former editor of the Globe & Mail‘s Facts and Arguments page. She lives with her husband, Sam Bufalini, in Victoria, BC.
Juan Pablo Gonzalez
Juan Pablo Gonzalez studied classical music before moving to Canada, where he earned a degree in visual arts from Alberta College of Art and Design. Since arriving in British Columbia, he has studied upright bass with legendary Romanian violinist Lache Cercel and regularly performs in the music scene in Vancouver.
Karla Hennig has directed, acted, stage managed or designed for more shows than she can remember. She has seen two of her earlier plays (“Wicked Women and One Lone Wolf” and “Out of Time”) make the leap from page to stage and has received three "Best Female Actor" awards from Theatre BC festivals.
“Driving the Doctor” was inspired by people and events drawn from research at the Penticton archives. It began as a simple 7 minute piece written for the Ryga Festival Theatre Trail. Karla thanks the Ryga Festival and Heather Davies in particular for encouraging her to travel further with these wonderful women.
When not in theatre mode Karla sings, writes, plays harp and piano, gets lost while hiking and collects stories about women and their lives.
Leah Hrycun is a PhD Student who has spent most of her life in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (amisk-wa-chi-was-ga-hi-gan), also known as Edmonton. She is a third generation Ukrainian Canadian who also shares German and Jewish ancestry. Her research interests include Métis histories, material culture, repatriation, land settlement and dispossession, settler-colonialism, and white settler supremacy on the prairies.
Her past research has focused on Métis histories of the prairies, and working with Métis in Alberta and the Métis Nation of Alberta to advance self-determination through material culture repatriation. Her current research seeks to recover narratives of Indigenous-Ukrainian relations in east central Alberta in the hope that it will open dialogues surrounding the shared histories of these lands and address why so few
historians consider the presence of Indigenous peoples and land in Ukrainian Canadian histories. By recovering these histories and deconstructing how and why Ukrainian settlers came to support Canadian settler-colonialism, she hopes to redresses Indigenous erasure in Ukrainian settler histories and ultimately provide space for Ukrainian Canadians to move toward being in good relation with the Cree, Nakota, Métis and other Indigenous peoples who also call central Alberta home.
Brian Thomas Isaac
Brian Thomas Isaac was born in 1950 on the Okanagan Indian Reserve, situated in south central British Columbia. He and his wife have one son and three grandchildren. All the Quiet Places is Brian’s first book.
Brian Isaac’s powerful debut novel All the Quiet Places is the coming-of-age story of Eddie Toma, an Indigenous (Syilx) boy, told through the young narrator’s wide-eyed observations of the world around him.
All the Quiet Places is the story of what can happen when every adult in a person’s life has been affected by colonialism; it tells of the acute separation from culture that can occur even at home in a loved familiar landscape. Its narrative power relies on the unguarded, unsentimental witness provided by Eddie.
Originally from Israel, Dan Kehila is affectionately dubbed "the Thelonius Monk" of Accordion by his bandmates. A master of the waltz and a unique ear for uncommon melodies, Dan adds an incredible flavour to any group he is a part of. He also performs with duo Billie's Holiday with his wife Jenni.
Aaron Loewen is a hot jazz and gypsy swing guitarist from Summerland, BC. Classically trained in piano as a youth, he studied with renowned gypsy jazz musician Denis Chang in Montreal. He has studied and performed with many of the masters throughout BC and beyond and is a regular in the music scene in the Okanagan and Vancouver.
Lupick previously spent 10 years as a staff reporter for the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver. He has also written about drug addiction, harm reduction, and mental health for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Vice Magazine, Toronto Star, and Globe and Mail, among others.
For his reporting on Canada’s opioid crisis, Lupick received the Canadian Association of Journalists’ prestigious Don McGillivray award for best overall investigative report of 2016. For Fighting for Space, he received the 2018 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and nominations for the 2018 B.C. Book Award and City of Vancouver Book Award.
He has also worked as a journalist in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Honduras.
Ahmad Meree is an actor and playwright born in Aleppo, Syria. He is a graduate from the Higher Institute of Theatre Arts in Cairo. Winner of an emerging artist award at Arts Awards Waterloo Region (2019) and the Best Actor Award at the Central Theatre Festival in Syria (2008), he directed Ionesco’s The Lesson in Egypt and won Best Director Award for directing Chekhov’s The Bear at Cairo’s Festival of International Theatre (2013). Ahmad came to Canada as a refugee in 2016 and currently lives in Kitchener, ON, where he works with MT Space as artistic associate, facilitator and co-director of their Young Company. Ahmad has written three plays, Suitcase (2019), Adrenaline (2017) which he toured to the Ryga Festival in Summerland, BC, Summerworks Performance Festival in Toronto and UNO Fest in Victoria, BC, also Adrenaline was nominated for Dora outstanding touring production, and Underground (2014) (Winner of Best Original Script in the University competition).
Pharis and Jason Romero
From the Pharis and Jason Romero website:
Pharis and Jason are a sentimental anchoring, and the perfect antidote to this sped-up life. Some scratchy old records and a custom banjo led to their meeting in 2007, and they quickly knew they were in for the long haul. They've since released six records, toured all over, won two Juno awards and multiple Canadian Folk Music Awards, and performed on A Prairie Home Companion and CBC's The Vinyl Cafe.
The sound of their two voices together is quietly show-stopping. The songs are inspired by the world the Romeros live in and the lifestyle they choose, with a powerful dose of the early country and folk they so dearly love. Balancing a bustling boutique banjo business and two young kids with the busy life of active musicians, and the balancing act itself becomes an art form.
They are passionate teachers and folk music lovers; Pharis is Artistic Director for Voice Works, (a workshop for singers) and Jason teaches all styles of banjo playing, especially old-time three finger playing.
Their newest record Bet On Love follows up on 2018’s Sweet Old Religion (also produced by Marc Jenkins) - which won a 2019 Juno Award, two Canadian Folk Music 2018 Awards, was the #1 most played record of 2018 on Stingray Folk-Roots, and was included on a bunch Best of 2018 Lists. Their 2015 A Wanderer I'll Stay was called "sublime" (NPR) and "brilliant" (BBC), and won a 2016 Juno Award and a Western Canadian Music Award; the title track was 2015's #1 most-played song on the Folk-DJ Charts.
Bet On Love (2020) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynK8zwgTd7w Sweet Old Religion (2018)
A Wanderer I’ll Stay (2015)
Long Gone Out West Blues (2013)
A Passing Glimpse (2011)
Back Up & Push - Jason & Pharis Romero and Friends (2010)
Shout Monah - The Haints Old Time Stringband (2009)
A fixture in the local arts community in Kelowna, Dylan Ranney is a versatile visual artist and drummer. He performs with many of the Okanagan's most popular acts including Swamp Honey and Leila Neverland. His groove and swing finds itself right at home in gypsy jazz music.
Sergei Ryga, “Twelve Ravens for the Sun” composer and arranger:
Sergei is active in the Kelowna, BC music scene as producer, composer, recording engineer, educator, and performer.
His band, Blues City Trio has played across BC for twelve years. He plays piano and sax, and recently added bass to his repertoire. He is active as a studio musician on multiple local productions. In 2019 he formed the band Primary Colours with drummer Dan Marcelino and his son Shae Ryga on guitar and vocals. They continue to be sought after at festivals and live events throughout the Okanagan.
Full-length compositions include Penumbra, a modern-day musical approach to Romeo and Juliet, which premiered in Kelowna.
Highlights in his music education include a master’s in curriculum development, including the development of education courses in composition.
As a music educator, his compositions and arrangements serve as study material from which his students learn the art of stylistic integration, chordal theory, and modern arranging techniques. Many of his students have gone on to pursue composition at university and in the professional music field.
Barry Bilinsky is a professional theatre practitioner of Metis/Cree and Ukrainian heritage. He has worked as a performing artist, technical/production manager, and theatre director across Alberta, with recent credits centred around Indigenous arts and collaborations.
Primarily, Barry focuses on creating work with diverse communities through various art disciplines. He studied English and Theatre at the University of Alberta, attaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2012.
Barry is an Artistic Associate with Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts, as well as having been involved in The Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, Iiniistsi Treaty Arts Society (REDx Talks), Akpik Theatre, and other companies in Edmonton and Calgary.
A Bush Cree woman originally from Wabasca, Alberta, Darlene has made Edmonton home; she has two daughters; Fawn and Kîstin. Darlene is an educator, actress, singer, award winning author and a holistic practitioner. She is an accomplished facilitator, having presented locally, nationally, and abroad.
Darlene holds a Psychology Degree from the University of Alberta with a minor in Drama, and a Doctoral Degree from the University Nuhelotine Thayotsi Nistameyimakanak Blue Quills in “Iyiniw Pimâtisiwin Kiskeyihtamowin”: Indigenous Life Knowledge in Health and Well-Being.
Darlene’s connection to Shumka began when she was cast as Kohkum in Ancestors & Elders which premiered in Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Fall of 2018. Darlene also acted as the Cree Language & Cultural Consultant on the production.
Currently, Darlene is a member of the Shumka Board of Directors.
Joseph Hoffman is an experienced dance instructor, writer, choreographer, and director. He has worked with performing studios around Alberta in a wide variety of disciplines, and has spent the last four years developing original work as a co-founder of Kinda Epic Productions.
Joseph started as a dancer with Avrova Ukrainian Dancers in 1996, before moving on to Shumka in 2010. While training as a dancer, he pursued a degree in kinesiology at the University of Alberta which he received in 2015. Joseph’s background as a dancer, paired with his specialization in physiology and coaching, have made him an authority on dance education.
During his time at Shumka, Joseph took on numerous roles, including positions on Shumka’s Wellness Committee and as Artistic Associate on Shumka’s Artistic Team. In 2016, he spearheaded Seniors Can Shumka, a new program bringing both the cultural knowledge and fitness benefits of Ukrainian dance to older generations.
Mark Leiren-Young's plays have been produced throughout North America and also staged in Europe and Australia. His comedy, Bar Mitzvah Boy was long-listed for the 2021 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and has been seen throughout Canada and the US. His plays have been produced throughout North America and also staged in Europe and Australia. Shylock has been translated into French, Czech and Dutch.