Day 17 Blanche: The Bittersweet Life of a Wild Prairie Dame
By Onalea Gilbertson
Book and Lyrics
If we don't tell their stories all will be forgotten...
I was inspired by Blanche's leather photo album from the 1930's. I found the album a few years ago in her dresser after she moved into her nursing home. Her possessions condensed in a room she shared with a woman with one leg whom she had just met. The album provided much solace. Laughing, stylish young people having the time of their lives during the Depression on the Alberta prairie. There was a particular type of smile on Blanche in those photos that I had never seen before.
The album became an artifact that renewed my soul connection with my Gram Blanche, and inspired me to gather as much of her story as I possibly could and turn it into song. I had been commissioned to write an original cabaret piece and words and phrases from interviews with Blanche were a springboard for many a composition.
This piece has been a meditation on what we remember, when we remember, who we remember and what others remember about us...
Blanche was a special soul, she told it like it was and sometimes she cussed a lot. She was a liberated woman in a time of much turbulence on the subject. She passed away this spring and we buried her ashes in a teapot beside her husband in a country cemetery next to the family farm. She was definitely a wild prairie dame - one of the wildest I have ever known.
To buy tickets or to learn more about BLANCHE: The Bittersweet Life Of A Prairie Dame go to www.nymf.org/blanche or call 212-352-3101