kARE: n____EiLbacher describes her show t)re(equilt as “Poet)re(e sacred intimate nuew k:Lassic theat)re”. There’s a strong textual element to the experience. Reading what she has written on the United Solo Festival website and the various handwritten notes she affixed at the theater entrance and audience seating area adds another dimension to the rich performance.
Even without that layer, the experience is intimate and immersive. EiLbacher is seated on stage when the audience arrives, with her back to us, but she can see us in a mirror in front of her. There are objects around her: a wooden music box that plays “Memories,” a stone, a Cabbage Patch figurine, and a long red string that extends into the front row. At first, you may try to make sense of these objects and the garment the artist wears, a cross between a painter’s smock, a hospital gown, and a religious shroud. As EiLbacher begins to vocalize, move, and speak, your focus widens to take in the set and performance as a whole that transcends its parts.
The artist is an experienced performer with well-honed delivery and vocal modulation. She is fully present while speaking as different characters, some lucid and some who seem childlike or even mad. She inhabits each so fully that you believe every moment.
The script is a bit of a mystery. The perspective seems to vary from feral whoops of joy to a teacher’s measured and maternal voice to a Greek chorus to a fool straight from Shakespeare, who says the wisest things. One of the most joyful parts is the appearance of a squirrel.
EiLbacher asks audience members to read poems she has left in books around the theater. Her requests are gentle but imploring. She signals with a small flashlight and her eyes ask, “Won’t you please join me on this journey?” Each of the three participants met the task with tenderness that added to the intimacy and grace of the group experience. And so they/we became the Chorus of this play. Students in a classroom? Quilters in a sewing circle? Participants in sacred ritual. Makers of meaning.
t)re(equilt is a communal experience that is difficult to describe but absolutely worth your time — a dance and conversation of art, air, breath, earth and growth, “sewing together the completed top, the batting (stuffing), and the back— is sometimes then performed communally, among small groups and reweaves them.” The play is an experiment with language, but it is fully intentional and a success.
Written and Performed by kARE: n____EiLbacher
March 10, 2023
The Spring 2023 United Solo Festival
March 7 - March 26, 2023
410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)
STEPHANIE EAGAN is a professional writer based in NJ. A fan of every type of live performance imaginable, from taiko drumming to political performance art, she travels the tri-state area and beyond in search of music, art, theater, and excellent coffee.