Performing Arts

American Arcade; or, How To Shoot Yourself in the Face (An Outrage in Two Acts)

Cody Magouirk in How To Shoot Yourself in the Face written and directed by Steven Samuels. Photo by Rodney Smith/Tempus Fugit Design

The Magnetic Theatre’s artistic director Steven Samuels premieres his play American Arcade; or, How To Shoot Yourself in the Face (An Outrage in Two Acts) at Magnetic 375 from Thursday, June 8, to Saturday, July 1. It is a play, he says, that has been 45 years in the making.

As a young writer, he had much of the play in his mind. “There were a number of images and ideas,” he says, “there were characters, there was a gestalt, if you will, of the play, but there were very few specifics and there was no dialogue. I had a broad outline and I knew what it was about and how it felt.” With age and wisdom, and after last year’s presidential election, Samuels felt that the play’s time had come.

Harry Hunter is the main character, trying to reconcile past and present while being haunted by his father’s ghost and plagued by voices in his head worrying about problems of the day. “It’s entirely contemporary,” Samuels says, “except that Harry has an idealized vision of his happy past he wishes to preserve and that conflicts with the ugly elements of his actual life and of the American past some in our society would return us to today.”

Samuels also looks forward to directing the play and to working with fellow actors. “There’s so much pleasure involved in working with such smart, talented, dedicated, generous people.”

The play officially opens on Saturday, June 10, but there are specially priced previews on June 8 and 9. Shows continue Thursdays through Saturdays. All performances are at 7:30 p.m.

Check the website for other June shows including The SuperHappy Radio Hour, Jeff Messer’s Maintaining an Election, The SuperHappy Trivia Challenge and the new Off-Off Broadway Project.

Magnetic 375 is located at 375 Depot Street in Asheville’s River Arts District. For more information, visit

Leave a Comment