'One Sacred Day' and Other Tales from the Land - Trish Eisele

Reviewed By Teresa Leggard

Fringe Reviewer

Trish Eisele’s One Sacred Day and Other Tales weaves a narrative of anecdotes, adventure, history, and spirituality with Apache warrior Cochise at its center. Eisele maintains visual interest by cutting in photos of her travels, maintaining engaging eye contact, and even varying her wardrobe and backdrop. At times the tales sound like so many dime-store Western novels and pioneer romances—amazing encounters in the wilderness, beautiful men, kind strangers. . .

The first half of the production offers context and personal history. As a young girl, a miscalculation by her mother and an affecting encounter jumpstart Eisele’s wanderlust. She pursues what she believes to be her heritage, but even upon learning the truth she’s too deeply invested to change course.  The second half of the production is the actual telling of the title story where fate seems to bring together Cochise, his daughter Standing Rock, mail carrier Thomas Jeffers, and a bear. Near the end, Eisele says of the great Apache warrior Cochise, “In this one holy instant, Cochise understood that honor, duty, integrity, and mercy hold no allegiance to race or creed. His sacred quest had been no different from the mission of his enemies. His decisions no more righteous than those of his adversaries. His struggles and losses no more painful.”

Between her soothing voice, the majesty of wilderness, the universality of story, one could almost miss when Eisele equates the actions of the oppressed and their oppressor. The humane action of one mail carrier is not the same as the project of settler colonialism that was brought upon Cochise, his people, and his land. Even if one concedes the universal themes, too many people still live throat-deep in the material consequences of these specific historical actions.

The images are beautiful. The music and narration are soothing. Had the storytelling remained of a more personal nature, the conclusion could have been more satisfying, but giving nearly an hour for attempted historical re-contextualizing with a removed, spiritual point of view ultimately felt like an unfair trade in the end.