Written and Performed by Luella Wagner
Directed and Developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson
Good teachers are magical beings and Luella Wagner is clearly a very, very good teacher.
Her story begins with loosing her job and with unemployment at an all time high of 12% in LA, 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 Luella thankfully has an awful lot of faith, by the bucket loads it seems, although she has trouble believing it at times. Her faith and her humor are what seem to get her through this crazy adventure and her first and only Montana winter.
Luella is a brilliant story teller and her soul in 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 and what a difference she is making in the lives of her students until the end of her year almost. Her plans to simply survive the year are set aside when she decides to make a documentary about the students and their community. Turning the camera on these gentle and loving people she gives them a much needed voice and a dignity and pride in their community. Her students are inspired by her adaptability and her creativity and her love for them and she is inspiredly their spirituality and their 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 give credence and authenticity to her many conversations and her confusion about 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 Haul half way across the country with her friend and three cats to an uncertain future and with nothing but her wit and her guts 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!