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Award-winning writer, composer, and director Corey Payette explores his Two-Spirit and queer identity in Starwalker

Corey Payette Starwalker
Corey Payette wrote and directs Starwalker (played by Dillan Chiblow), in an Urban Ink and Raven Theatre coproduction commissioned by and developed with The Musical Stage Company. Art direction by Andr.

For years, Corey Payette has been wowing Canadian theatregoers with award-winning musicals such as Children of God, Les Filles du Roi, and Seda, which depict Indigenous experiences on-stage.

Now, the interdisciplinary writer, composer, and director is addressing another aspect of Indigenous life. His newest production, Starwalker, revolves around an East Vancouver Indigiqueer Two-Spirit drag queen, played by Dillan Chiblow.

According to the Cultch, which is presenting this work at the York Theatre from February 16 to March 5, it enabled Payette “to explore a side of himself” that he hasn’t had as much time to focus on in his other works.

Payette is a member of the Mattagami First Nation, with French Canadian and Irish ancestry. Chiblow previously played Tommy/Tom in Children of God.

Commissioned and developed by The Musical Stage Company in Toronto, Starwalker is a coproduction of Urban Ink, where Payette is artistic director, and Raven Theatre, which he founded.

Ralph Escamillan created the choreography for Starwalker and music direction is provided by Sean Bayntun. The cast also features Stewart Adam McKensy (Kinky Boots) and Jeffrey Follis (a.k.a. Drag Queen Urupa).

“I really wanted to look at uplifting some of these voices in a way that was joyous and wasn’t tied to their trauma,” Payette says in a Cultch news release. “While the characters have experienced hardship, the show is actually about how they are working their way through those issues to find joy, to find love, and to find family and home.”

For more information about Starwalker and to purchase tickets, visit the Cultch website.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.