Good teachers are magical beings and Luella Wagner is clearly a very, very good teacher.
Her story begins with her losing her job. With unemployment at an all time high of 12% in L.A., she takes the only teaching job she can find, which just happens to be on an Indian reservation in Montana.
Sometimes the only option we have is a leap of faith, and thankfully Luella Wagner has an awful lot of faith, by the bucket loads it seems, although she has a little trouble believing it at times. Her faith and her humor are what seem to power her through this crazy adventure and her first and only Montana winter.
Luella is a brilliant story teller and her soul is in this play. She has written her heart out and the results of this earnest and profoundly honest offering are so beautifully communicated by her on stage that the audience is left feeling a deep and very real connection to her and her story. Only the greatest performers can do this and I can only imagine how inspiring she is in the classroom.
Once in Montana she greets her new assignment with hope and clear-eyed naiveté, not realizing how well she is doing with her students and what a difference she is making in their lives until almost the end of her year. Her plans to simply survive the assignment are set aside when she is inspired to make a documentary about the students and their community. In turning the camera on these gentle and loving people she gives a much needed voice to their dignity and their pride in their community. Her students are inspired by her adaptability, her creativity and her love for them. She is inspired by their spirituality and their beautiful lightness of being.
Luella tells us her story with complete candor, using the recorded voices her friends in many of their actual roles is a master stroke. It instantly gives credence and authenticity to her many conversations with them about her struggle to find her role in this world. The simple sweetness of her performance is so appealing that one can only smile and laugh and happily accompany her as she drives a UHaul half way across the country with her three cats to an uncertain future, with nothing but her wit and her nerve and her faith to guide her.
Luella Wagner is a star - funny, open hearted, warmly brilliant and the perfect guide through her fascinating and still-unfolding life. I loved this show. It’s solo work at its finest. Deep and meaningful, littered with laughs, sprinkled with love and not so neatly tied that we don’t believe it. Life is messy and people full of flaws, but the flaws are where the light comes in and Luella Wagner is full of light.…Bravo!