There must be many Albertans, like me, who knew almost nothing about our Black pioneer history. In reaching back four generations, Ribbon’s author, director and star creates a character, Lily, who lives in the chapter when Black migration from Oklahoma arrived in Alberta, touted as “Home of the Colored Race” in local American papers. … Her story is woven with lyrical insights into the link between people and land.
- Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal

What’s the show about?

Paula has returned to clear out the family homestead, it is time that she deals with this property she has been left. But unknown to her, her great grandmother Lily’s ghost is trying to tell her the real value of the objects she is discarding.

The play deals with the general hardships of pioneering in the province, but also with the specific issues of racism facing the Black pioneers. Research was done in co-operation with the Black Settlers of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Who’s involved with the show?

Ribbon is a one woman show written and directed by Pat Darbasie.

Pat is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program and has been an actor/performer in Edmonton for over 20 years. She is a two time Sterling award winner for her performances in Barbarians for Workshop West Theatre and Seeds at the 1997 Fringe.

In 2001 Pat started writing plays; Carnival Magic, a play based on West Indian culture toured Edmonton area schools with Concrete Theatre in February of 2005. Pat’s other play, Ribbon is a one-woman show she researched, wrote and performed for her MFA thesis in Directing at the University of Alberta.

Upon completion of her MFA Pat attended York University where she studied Voice and Speech with acclaimed voice teacher David Smukler. Her thesis at York was The Syringa Tree which she directed using voice and movement techniques from her year of study. Pat currently continues projects as an actor, director and writer as well as teaches voice and acting as a sessional at the University of Alberta.

How was the show developed?

RIBBON began life seven years ago when GROUND ZERO was working on outreach to the Black communities in Edmonton. We funded Pat Darbasie to begin creating a show about the Black pioneers in Alberta. This eventually developed, in 2005, into the first performer created theatre piece to be accepted as an MFA Directing thesis at the University of Alberta. GROUND ZERO co-produced with Studio Theatre, bringing in Diane Roberts to work with Pat on the show’s development. Artistic Director Don Bouzek also supported the production, co-ordinating the technical elements.

The play was performed in an abridged form twice following the run at Studio Theatre, both within the context of Black History month 2006. Then it was put in storage until the Black Settlers of Alberta and Saskatchewan [BSAS] requested it be revived for the Amber Valley centennial. GROUND ZERO asked the original designer, Colin Winslow, to create a simplified version of the show, and Pat revisited the script, making it shorter and tighter.

Where can I see the show?

Ribbon is now available for touring. For further information check out the Booking GZP section of this website.

The next performance of the show will be:


The most recent performance of Ribbon was on Thursday, August 12 at Simon Fraser University, Fletcher Challenge Theatre in Vancouver, B.C.