In The Moment: ‘Call Me William: The Life and Loves of Willa Cather’

I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.”
Willa Cather, Death Comes to the Archbishop.

Willa Cather.
Willa Cather.

In her Death Comes for the Archbishop Cather she also wrote, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.” Now local audiences will be able to learn more about the life and times of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather explored in the show Call Me William: The Life and Loves of Willa Cather coming to the Robert Ames Alden Theatre in McLean, VA.

Actor and author Prudence Wright Holmes is performing a one-woman show based on her extensive research into the life of Cather (1876-1947). The Alden Theater marketing material notes that, “Actor and author Holmes’ one-woman show is based on the life of Cather, who was a courageous pioneer of the LGBT community. Cather dared to dress like a man in a small Nebraska town in the 1890s and was almost expelled from The University of Nebraska for it — that and her love affair with her classmate, Louise Pound.

Directed by Nora Deveau Rosen, Call Me William follows Cather’s life through unhappy love affairs and her “Boston marriage” to winning a Pulitzer Prize for Literature for One of Ours in 1923.” In a recent telephone interview, Holmes spoke of her long interest in Cather. “She led an inspirational life and was so very courageous. She was self-confident and driven. Being a woman did not stop her from daring to achieve.”

For Holmes there is much to explore about Cather’s inspiring life. “Cather was always a dreamer and dared to achieve. She has so many aspects to draw upon in her full life.” Cather went to the University of Nebraska in the 1890’s which was unusual at the time, she was on the front cover of Time Magazine and a U.S. postal commemorative stamp was issued to honor her in 1973.  Her 1947 obituary from the NY Times is here.

Prudence Wright Holmes. Photo courtesy of Alden Theatre.
Prudence Wright Holmes. Photo courtesy of Alden Theatre.

When asked for a final quote from Cather, Holmes provided this one: “being a woman never damaged my ambition”. And this quote appears on Cather’s tombstone: “…that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.” from My Antonia.

“Holmes is a great storyteller” said Sarah N. Schallern, Director of performing arts, Alden Theatre, at the McLean Community Center. “There is much to learn about Willa Cather through the performance of Call Me William, The Life and Loves of Willa Cather.

Call Me William: The Life and Loves of Willa Cather will be performed on Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 2 p.m. at the Alden Theater located inside the McLean Community Center – 1234 Ingleside Avenue, in McLean, VA.  Purchase tickets online.

The Willa Cather Foundation link website.

Willa Cather archives at the University of Nebraska.

PBS American Masters‘ Willa Cather: The Road is All: