“The Indigo Room” Magically Translates Indigenous Stories—at La MaMa, N.Y.
Timothy White Eagle Invites Us to His Room of Pleasure & Grief
by Beau McGlasson
Life’s shocking juxtapositions live at the heart of Timothy White Eagle’s exhilarating immersive theater experience, “The Indigo Room.” White Eagle’s beautiful, emotional, and vulnerable performance piece contrasts sorrow with joy, play with struggle, and maximal-ism with minimalism.
“The Indigo Room” is part of the experimental “Under the Radar” festival, assembled by The Public Theater in New York, every January.
True to The Public’s quest for new kinds of theater, the show’s structure echoes White Eagle’s themes of opposites and contrasts. He begins with a chaotic carnival where we play games, like ring toss. After the game, we file into a large dark room, where a small stage features salt rocks. White Eagle disorients us. We are transported us from a raucous carnival to a sparse, silent theater. Inviting us into his deepest emotions, we are detached from the usual theater experience. He prepares us to immerse and engage with his rituals and stories.
White Eagle is tall and imposing in blue jeans and Native American jewelry. He tells multiple, disconnected stories that explore grief, loss, and transformation. He recounts the near-drowning of a child and a nearly-forgotten intimate embrace. His culminating story elaborates an Indigenous creation myth about young men who are given an impossible task.
That’s when the performance changes completely. White Eagle begins chanting. The lights cut to black and loud bass surges from the speakers. While White Eagle continued chanting in the darkness, I could feel my seat shake.
A single light interrupts the darkness, shining directly on the vat of water in the center of the stage. White Eagle chops at the salt blocks with a knife, and dust swirls into the single light. It’s an invigorating experience that involves the performer’s unique openness and vulnerability.
White Eagle shows us that grief and joy, pain and play, are inseparable. He reconnects us to a magic that gives hope to all who enter here.
“Indigo Room” by Timothy White Eagle and The Violet Triangle, with Paul Budraitis, and HATLO, lighting design by Nic Vincent, sound design by Crystal Cortez, Under the Radar Festival, New York Public Theater, at LaMaMa. Info: LaMaMa.org – to January 22, 2023.
Cast: Timothy White Eagle, Paul Budraitis, and HATLO.