BETHANY, W.Va. – Attendees of Bethany College Theatre’s performance “Arcana” will have a unique experience to be involved in the show. The series of short plays and monologues are each inspired by a tarot card, and the audience will be given a deck of the cards to decide the order of the performances.
“Arcana,” by playwright John Longenbaugh, will be presented in Wailes Theatre of Steinman Hall April 16-18 at 8 p.m. and April 19 at 2 p.m. Only 75 tickets will be available for each showing, as the seats will be in a thrust configuration, with the seats on stage with the actors.
The performances are charming, funny and mysterious – much like tarot cards themselves, said Luke Hardt, Associate Professor of Theatre, Director of the Bethany College Theatre, and Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.
“Picnic,” based on The Sun tarot card, is a particularly humorous short play, Hardt said. It is based on “Le dejeuner sur l’’herbe” by Manet, which portrays two Frenchmen having a picnic with a scantily clad woman. “It’s the painting come to life. The actors are having a hilarious conversation you can picture the subjects in the painting having,” Hardt said.
In “Petting Sounds,” based on The Lovers tarot card, intriguing sounds from an apartment turn out to have an unexpected source.
The Strength tarot card inspired “A Cry in the Forest,” which concerns an intrusive aunt and her niece.
“Affairs with the Moon,” based on The Moon card, reveals the thoughts of four women in different places – with much different problems – as they talk to the moon, hoping to get some answers.
“Stardust,” based on The Star card, reveals the connection of two universal rites of passage between two different people. “When the play starts, it looks like these two elderly women are waiting to board a boat. When it ends, you realize it’s something much different than that,” Hardt said.
The Temperance tarot card inspired the monologue “Balance,” in which a vegetarian explains to her carnivore date why she agreed to go out with him in the first place.
In “Wild River,” inspired by The High Priestess card, a reporter with “Rolling Stone” gets an interview with the new pope, who turns out to have some pretty radical ideas.
The plays feature Taylor Ferko (Pittsburgh), Aidan Garvey (Wellsburg, West Virginia), Max Hardt (Bethany, West Virginia), Jordan Jones (Baltimore, Maryland), Mike Lyons (Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania), Maclaine Murad (Bridgeport, Ohio) and Elias Stebbins (Washington, Pennsylvania). Technical direction is by Nathan Dunn, and John Vucich is stage manager.
Due to adult content in “Arcana,” parents are advised not to bring young children. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Reservations are strongly encouraged. To reserve a seat for the show, call (304) 829-7124.
Bethany, a small college of national distinction, is located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus. Bethany, the oldest degree granting institution in West Virginia, was founded in 1840 and traces its origins to the founding of Buffalo Seminary in 1818 at what was then Bethany, Virginia.