Fox & Beggar Theater ends tour with “Taracco: A Soldier’s Tale” at WCU

Fox & Beggar Theater presented their final performance on Aug. 25 of “Taracco: A Soldier’s Tale” in Bardo Arts Center, ending their summer 2016 tour.

According to the Fox & Beggar website, “Tarocco tells the story of an Italian WWI infantryman, trapped behind enemy lines after barely escaping the gas attacks at Caporetto. To pass the time, the soldier comforts a dying comrade with stories using the images from an ancient deck of playing cards known as the Tarocco Piemontese (a predecessor of modern Tarot cards). What follows is a spellbinding and dark narrative based on the Fool’s Journey of the Tarot.”

What is the Fool’s Journey? The Fool’s Journey is a metaphor describing the multiple stages of life. Each card represents a different step or stage in that journey for the Fool to achieve completion, self-fulfillment, and wholeness.

“The show was entirely the soldier’s moment of death,” Doug McDaniel said plainly. “As a veteran, I could relate to the many themes brought up in the show. (The Fool) was a soldier of war, but a child of God.”

Fox & Beggar Theater and Cirque De Vol Studios presented Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale on Aug. 13th in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh

Fox & Beggar Theater and Cirque De Vol Studios presented Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale on Aug. 13th in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh

“Taracco” is a dark and often disturbing tale that subtly steps through the 21 major arcana, weaving together an out of frame story through heavy symbolism and interpretive dance. It is a rather unusual show, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t impressive or uninteresting. The sheer athleticism and talent shines as these performers balanced themselves on and in hoops, hanging ropes, and hand balancing stands. Combine a story with visual acrobatics, poi-spinners, scarf-dancers, puppetry, ballet, Fox & Beggar company performed it all with ease while belly dancing and tumbling their way through a live electronic musical score performed by Marcin Bela and Lisa Harkness.

The animated backdrops added ambiance to the three-act show, often creating a setting for the ambiguous and symbolic nature of the performance. The show flowed into different tarot-themed sections with titles like “The Lovers”, “Death” and “The Moon”. During “Death”, the character of the Fool came across almost a mirrored reflection of himself, supposedly lying cold dead on the ground. Out came two other cast members in plague doctor masks and long pointed wings on their arms. They raised their arms around the Fools, and the Fools would lively spring back into action. Then when the wings were dropped, the Fools dropped to the floor. This repeated again and again without clear reason, each time the Fools would stand back up they’d band close together, rubbing their hands as if they were freezing. This could symbolize the phrase about the “cold embrace of death” and how death can often be at random and appear senseless. The show truly puts interpret into interpretive dance.

Some might interpret this as a lack of straightforwardness; lacking understanding of tarot might not lead to the clearest story. Some audience members differed.

“You come into this thinking it’s going to drag, and it didn’t,” said McDaniel. “It was perfect. You could clearly follow the story, and it was beautiful.”

“We actually know a lot of people who perform in these kinds of acts, and these guys were really talented,” said Faith McDaniel, explaining why she and her husband came from Knoxville, Tennessee, to see the show. “My God, it was amazing.”