New play celebrates Alstonville WWII nurse Blanchie Blanch
THE life of Alstonville Second World War nurse and prisoner of war Jessie "Blanchie" Blanch is the subject of a new theatre production.
The production, Remnants, was written and directed by new Alstonville resident John Senczuk and will star former Alstonville woman Rachel Beck.
Mr Senczuk, who recently moved from Perth, said a visit to the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society where he read Ian Kirkland's short biography of Blanchie inspired the production.
"Her story is astonishing," he said.
Where: Alstonville Leisure and Entertainment Centre
When: July 24 at 7.30pm and July 25 at 2pm and 7.30pm
Cost: Tickets are $35 for adults, $27 for concessions and $18 for students
Bookings: Phone 6628 3533
"Remarkable for not only her stoic resistance, her strong survival instincts and selfless concern for her colleagues during her incarceration by the Japanese, butalso for her no-nonsense philosophy of 'getting on with things' and a brilliant sense of humour."
The pair have a long theatrical partnership including Ms Beck's Sydney Theatre Company debut in Sondheim's A Little Night Music (1991), which Mr Senczuk designed.
A decade ago, Ms Beck also starred in Mr Senczuk's musical Eureka! - which headlined the 2004 Melbourne Festival.
Ms Beck said she was delighted to be coming home to take on the role of Blanchie.
"It's been a long time since I've actually performed in front of a home crowd. It's very exciting," she said.
Remnants follows Blanchie after her return to Alstonville to marry Sydney photographer Albert Eaton-Lee on her 40th birthday.
Many in Alstonville are surprised, given Blanchie's history.
She enlisted to tend solders in Malaya in 1941 and was evacuated when the Japanese invaded the Malayan Peninsula.
Blanchie was shipwrecked and taken prisoner, spending the next three-and-a-half years in the hell camps of Sumatra.