The Empress by Roxanne Cowles – McPhail
Quaternity helped produce a second show, also focused on bringing alive the Tarot. Performances were held on Denman Island, in Courtenay and in Cumberland in January, 2016
Here is the show write up that appeared in Harbour Living and the Comox Record
“In 2013, a group of local artists became intrigued with the Major Arcana cards of the Tarot Deck. These cards are profound symbols that embody the basic forces driving human nature. These forces provide fascinating thematic material for creating a show that is accessible to everyone, regardless of a person’s level of experience with the Tarot Deck. 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, namely, performance – combining song, dance, poetry, theatre and visual art. Thoughout this performance, the audience is invited to journey through the Major Arcana of the Tarot Deck-a centuries old envisioning of classic archetypes, still relevant when brought into the modern age. 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.” Artistic Director, Laurie Montemurro is no stranger to Tarot performance, having co-produced and directed the sell-out show Tarot Windows in 2013. Although the theme may be familiar, the upcoming A Tarot Journey is a very different production from its predecessor. The 2013 show, Tarot Windows, was set up literally as an art gallery with a focus on Denman Island artist Sudasi Gardner’s beautiful painted quilts of the Major Arcana . The guided audience moved from quilt to quilt, viewing still tableaus or moving portraits.
In the new show, A Tarot Journey, the audience is brought along with the Fool as she journeys through her tarot card reading, each interaction providing her with the choices to guide her own destiny. This rendering of the Tarot deck follows a more traditional theatre experience with the audience remaining seated as the action transpires on the stage in front of them. Montemurro has teamed with Roxanne Cowles- MacPhail to co-direct the performance, with Roxanne creating original Tarot card images for the show. Each performer created a rendering of their cards, with input from the directors to help make the ideas come to life. The show opens with Fool on stage, her curious bemusement a reflection of the audience’s own. She makes us laugh. From here, each card of the Major Arcana is presented, brought to life by Roxanne Cowles-MacPhail, Laurie Montemurro, Jennifer Lee, Keiran Meager, Esther Purves-Smith, Cathy Stoyko, Nicole Tritter, Jennifer West, accompanied on piano by Linda Nessel-Treen. By turns musical and poetic, confrontational and comic, the overall sense is one of slightly surreal anticipation, as we await whatever messages the next card may reveal.
“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