Stellavision – The 3D World of Stella Walker

Stella Walker continues her comedic quest to make sense of the world in this one-woman musical comedy “Stellavision”.
  She tries to tell her life story, only to be interrupted by two men, both played by her, who claim to be the writers of the show. 

“Stellavision” was first performed in the fall of 2018 at The John Candy Box Theatre, Second City, Toronto. It was then presented by the Yukon Arts Centre and Keno Community Club in Keno City Yukon, to celebrate their centennial in June, 2019.

 “Stellavision” is written and performed by Stella Walker
In English with some Yiddish and Cree 
 All songs Stella Walker SOCAN
 With material and dramaturgy by Andy Jones
 Directed and dramaturged by John Mitchell
 Cultural Advisors: Elder Clarence “Butch” Dick
 of the Songhees First Nation
Rabbi Asher Turin (of blessed memory) 

Stellavision is a retro TV show. I joke, sing, and share my life story through musical numbers and bits, illustrated with projections of personal photos, offering a diverse world-view.  

SYNOPSIS: I have been so busy I had to outsource the writing to Waseem, the head of a team of writers from Acme Comedy Writing in Mumbai. In a play-within-a-play, Waseem (played by me) interrupts, telling me how to deliver my show. He politely makes critical suggestions to improve the drama, pointing out delicate matters of cultural appropriation, like my bad Indian accent.

 I also play Gary, a long-distance truck driver who fancies himself a writer. Meddling and mansplaining, he claims authorship of my own family history, arrogantly delivering my autobiographical material in trucking songs like the western song “The Western Wall” about my Orthodox niece in Israel. I have heated arguments with these interfering characters over central themes in the show: family origins and identity, cultural history, the right to tell our own stories. 

I share that I have four names. “Stella Walker”, my Yiddish name “Shterndl” my Hebrew name “Khedva” and my Cree name which was given in ceremony and is private. 

The story spans urban and rural communities in Western Canada, the Yukon and Toronto. It starts in The Old Country. 

Like many Canadians, my grandmother was an immigrant. But unlike most Canadian immigrants, she came under the cloud of a curse.
 She left Europe in 1904 to homestead in Saskatchewan
 with a non-Jew at the age of 16.

Singing in Yiddish, I play a Rabbi making a Hasidic curse on my grandmother and all her female descendants for leaving the fold. The Hasidic curse of 1904 must explain my life story.

I tell how my mother Lillie grew up in the depression in a tiny town in Saskatchewan. My father Mickey was a jazz drummer and charming wheeler dealer. He put the “harm” in charm. 

I sing about how Mom was a leg model when she met Dad 
“I Didn’t Get Her Gams”. 

After they married and had kids, she learned he had a drinking problem. Homeless, the whole family drove across the prairies, waiting in the car as Dad worked as a travelling salesman selling Humpty Dumpty Magazines for Children door to door.

I tell how we were taken into the community of the Songhees First Nation when living in a motel across from the reserve, the only non-indigenous kids on the reserve. I play my father pitching his crazy deals, like his scheme to get folks to pay for laminated obituaries, singing “The Obit Bit” while playing the drums.

We see a mansion. It disappears when Dad has a nervous breakdown.
 I leave home at 17, surviving as a pool shark in the Yukon.

I play the various characters. 
Demonstrations of my time working as a manual labourer in a silver mill are strangely entertaining. I break rocks with a sledgehammer, one of the first women in mining. 

In Vancouver, I marry, divorce, get security cleared to the Secret level, work as a Customs Inspector, man the R.C.M.P. emergency lines, sing in Vancouver Opera, move to Toronto, do showbiz, lead services in a synagogue.

Throughout the play Waseem interrupts urging changes to the show even as it is performed, such as his song “The Song Must Advance the Narrative”. I swab myself for DNA analysis, mailing the Q Tip to Switzerland for testing to see if I’m funny. The DNA test comes back with shocking results. I’m four percent less funny that I was in 1993 and I am 79 percent Finnish. This pushes me over the edge. I sing “I Feel A Mad Scene Coming On.” 

 In a climactic battle of wills, Gary, Waseem and I wrestle each other, fighting to the finish. I wonder aloud if all these characters are actually me. A dragonfly appears and explains it all to us, singing the theme song “The Spaces Between Things. Oh, the wonder of the interconnectedness of it all.
And to think that it took a singing bug for me to understand.

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photo : Jennifer Walker 

Scenes from Stellavision at the John Candy Box Theatre, The Second City, Toronto 2018.
Edited by Jason Butler