In May/June 2015, Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale premiered over two weekends at Asheville’s most iconic venue.
Tarocco tells the story of an Italian WWI infantryman, trapped behind enemy lines after narrowly 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.
Each new card brings to the stage a mysterious new character, leading the doomed soldier through twenty-one wondrous labyrinths of the human imagination. Opening on the centennial of World War I, Tarocco blends history and fantasy into a wholly new kind of theatrical experience. The feature-length score of Tarocco was written by Nashville composer/producer Marcin Bela and mixed/mastered by Grammy-award winning audio engineer Kyle Ginther. The music was performed live by electronic world bass trio Raga Sutra.
Written, Directed, and Produced
by Nat Allister
A Soldier's Tale
Poster art by Emily Wildwood
Mateo Romero, from the red earth of the American Southwest, enjoys giving praise, undressing truth, and speaking in tongues. Given the chance, he would travel to China circa 1931 to trek across the Gobi desert with French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He would bring a notebook, a sketchbook, and a white cloak with which to twirl madly across the desert sand.
Renato Rotolo (The Soldier) from Southeast Italy, enjoys making love, taking pictures, and exploring nature. He would love to visit Beringia 27,000 years ago.
Sneaky was born in one of the wagons of a southbound caravan heading to Crossroads, MS. His favorite pastimes include organ grinding in his lonely dark tower, tying innocent maidens to railroad tracks, and plotting world domination. Once his teleportation device is working again, he'll be visiting the plains of Africa, where he plans to push a certain impatient lion cub into a herd of wildebeest and gain his proper place as King of the Savannah. He loves children...sautéed with garlic and onion.
Madison, from Charleston SC, enjoys sailing on wind-powered vessels, testing the endless ways her body can move, and exploring her subconscious through painting. She would like to travel back to pre-colonial America, bringing with her a history book that illustrates the forthcoming European colonization, multiple tongues to communicate this message to the indigenous peoples, and the power to erase the notion that land can be owned.
Kristi, from MN, enjoys dancing, soaking in sunshine, and dreamtime adventures. She would like to travel somewhere between one thousand and ten thousand years into the future. If we still exist there, she would love to get a glimpse of the medical, scientific, and technological advancements, as well as general spiritual philosophies of that time, and bring back any helpful discoveries that could aid the present state of affairs. She would bring clean drinking water and lembas bread.
Lyca is a Shapeshifting Mage from the Western Coastal Valleys, who developed his crafts and practices in the wet Northeast. Should a shift portal open, he’d Apparate into an Old-World Village of lovers and movers in the Fae Mountains. Limited to a trio of possessions, he’d bring along his Celtic frame drum, a large knife, and a crystal sphere. In this place, he’d enjoy a perfect day of making music with the sunrise, creating a sacred fire with only a blade and lense, and dancing into the night.
Rob Lenfestey, from Southern Appalachia, enjoys harvesting wild food, playing music, and going to various extremes in the wilderness. He would like to go to Celtic Gaul circa 1080 ad, and bring with him a solar charger, a DMX light rig, a laptop, and a soundsystem,so as to quickly go about establishing himself as a living god.
Hayley Adamson, from Atlanta GA, enjoys a good deal of dancing, singing, and laughing. She would like to travel to prehistoric India to form an army of tigers and overthrow Samudragupta in an ironic twist of trivial history. She would need to bring the ability to tiger-whisper, a laser gun, and probably a lighter.
Elijah Strongheart (Cast) from Western NC, enjoys climbing cliffs, jumping off cliffs into water, and musing about the substrate of organic life’s inherent qualities. He would like to travel to Alexandria before the library caught fire. He’d bring a fire truck (filled with firefighters), a towel, some excuses, and bouncy balls.
Eden May, from Dallas PA, loves nature adventures, gardening and creating symbolic art. She would like to travel to pre-colonial North America so as to learn what she could from its first citizens. She would bring a bow-and-arrow, a basket for harvesting plants, and some keen listening skills.
Lace Spencer, from Farmington ME, enjoys crafting, hiking, and being a fairy. She would like to travel to 14th century Persia and find the poet Hafiz. She’d bring a journal, a camera, and gifts from the future.
Becca Mellstrom, a Minnesotan, likes creating, destroying, and recess. After the show she is headed to Ragnarok, bringing limes, waterwings, and some fingernail clippings. And lots and lots of pencils. If she can have four things.
Northern-born Nat Allister loves bacon, hot black coffee, and very tiny top hats. He would greatly enjoy visiting the Kingdom of Ohrmuzd in its heyday, maybe around 1542 during the Portuguese occupation. Assuming that the old Ohrmuzd dynasty probably wasn’t an easy lot to impress, he imagines he would bring a substantial amount of propane and a well-built flamethrower.
Lyss was born in a redwood forest and has been moving slowly eastward ever since. She enjoys awkward social scenes, pontificating loudly, and baking pie. Given the chance she would visit Minoan Crete to participate in bull-vaulting ceremonies, and would bring with her a bottle of bourbon, a very sparkly bikini, and a first aid kit.
Marcin Bela, from Krakow, Poland, is a pianist, composer and producer. He lives in Nashville, TN, where he splits his time between writing music, performing, producing and mentoring young artists, cooking, meditating, practicing yoga and indulging in pleasures with his sprawling and colorful Nashville family. He would like to travel to South and Southeast Asia, where he would take the same three things he takes everywhere: phone, keys and wallet.
Morgan Markowitz, from the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, enjoys sunrises on the beach, summer thunderstorms, and jumping in puddles with his daughter and wife while laughing uncontrollably. He would like to visit his Gypsy Jewish ancestors in eastern Europe and learn to play Klezmer music, tell stories by the fire, and live in a horse drawn buggy. He would bring a walking stick, guitar and good hiking shoes.
Beth grew up close to Cincinnati, Ohio. A perfect day for her would probably involve rock climbing and hang-gliding over seaside New Zealand, with good craft beer to keep her company. She would like to travel to the future and bring a tree, some paint and a waffle iron.
Vanyelska (Costumes) born in the village of Riverwest, would be perfectly happy in the Renaissance—except for all of the hand sewing. She would travel in a gypsy train across Morocco with three witches and a mystically powered industrial sewing machine, sampling all the spices, leathers, and travelers that the silk road had to offer. Her evenings would be spent mending, tattooing, and performing minor surgeries by the fire with a cast of musicians and tradesfolk.
Forrest Kelly (Rigger/Aerial Tech) was born in the treetops of southern Appalachia. He spends his time working with the earth, building tree houses, swinging on ropes, and climbing the tallest things he can find. He would love to travel back to the days of the very first Celts, spearhunting prehistoric deer and defending his tribe on the isle now known as Ireland.