In 2013, a group of Denman Island artists became intrigued with the major arcana cards of the tarot deck.
This fascination led to inspiration, which led to collaboration – and to creation. A Tarot Journey, a multi-genre theatre production playing in three Comox Valley venues this January, is the second offering from this diverse and innovative team.
A Tarot Journey is not just for tarot enthusiasts, says artistic director Laurie Montemurro. Because the cards are profound and aesthetically-rich symbols that embody the basic forces driving human nature, they provide fascinating thematic material. The result is a show that is accessible to everyone interested in story, archetype, human dynamics, and the way life and art interact.
“The tarot is a means to explain our personal journey – every journey holding its beauty and grief, light and dark, and joy and desire. We are celebrating the qualities of the journey in the performances. Audience members will have their own journey through the tarot, and the show will create a forum for thought and questions about art and life,” says Montemurro.
Many people will be familiar with two- and three-dimensional tarot deck images, such as the classic Rider-Waite deck, Salvador Dali’s 78 paintings and Niki de Saint Phalle’s contemporary sculpture garden in Tuscany.
This show adds a fourth dimension to the tarot – performance.
Montemurro is no stranger to tarot-inspired theatre, having co-produced and directed the sold-out show Tarot Windows in 2014 that featured Sudasi Gardner’s hand-painted quilts. A Tarot Journey is not a sequel but rather an entirely new production, offering a different vision and format, and an original set of stunning tarot card images created specifically for this show by visual and performing artist Roxanne Cowles-MacPhail, who also co-directs.
The performance opens with Fool on stage, her curiosity and capacity for amusement a reflection of the audience’s own. She makes us laugh as she invites us to witness her tarot card reading. Each card is brought to life by a performer, who interprets it in dance, movement, theatre, poetry or song. Each interaction provides the Fool with choices to guide her own destiny.
The mood is by turns musical and poetic, confrontational and comic, and the overall sense is one of slightly surreal anticipation, as we await whatever messages the next card may reveal. This is much like our journey through life, which is one reason the tarot has provided, and continues to provide, so much inspiration for artists.
As the sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle wrote, “I am convinced that the cards contain an important message… The tarot cards have given me a key to better understanding my spiritual life and to dealing with life’s problems.”
Join us for performances this January on Denman Island, in Courtenay, and in Cumberland. The performance schedule is as follows:
Denman Island, 8 p.m., Jan. 23, at the Community Hall
Courtenay 8 p.m., Friday Jan. 29, at the Old Church Theatre, 755 Harmston Ave.
Cumberland, 8 p.m., Jan. 30, at Studio Live, 2679 Beaufort St.
For more details, visit www.atarotjourney2016.blogspot.com/ or call Sussan Thomson at 250-897-8350.
Show is appropriate for ages 16+.