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Character Background 4: Byron McAlistair

We have now reached the 3rd generation of McAlistairs, Byron the son of Edgar and Fay. Who is he?

He is a politician, aspiring to be Mayor of New Camden. His platform is heavy on the need to keep government small and out of everyones’ affairs, and a strong accent on fear that the government will soon become an invasive force, a police state which will rule it’s citizens with an iron fist. He also stresses a return to more traditional society and believes the city’s moral compass is disintegrating fast as exemplified by the youth and their embrace of the religion of Voudon for their new subculture. His campaign is very dynamic and energetic and in fact he’s more than a bit of a rabble rouser.

This political stance does not come out of nowhere. Since his father Edgar ended up with his mother Fay through a rather nasty act of coercion, their marriage was a truly awful one and Fay despised Edgar. Their son Byron picked up on this and he too resents his father deeply. Government, that is to say authority, represents his father, and after seeing his mother’s misery he does feel deeply that authority is coercive, invasive and should be kept severely in line, if not done away with as much as possible while still keeping order. He does not consciously know that his politics are mostly him railing against his father, but he wouldn’t be unduly shocked should he have the revelation.

He is not an anarchist, mostly because after his father Edgar died while he was in his teens, he was left with his mother Fay, who he loved and whose gentleness kept him from rebelling to the point where he dismissed the notion of societal order. Had his father lived this would likely have happened.

It should be noted here, that although this will never be used in the opera, Edgar died rich, immensely powerful and absolutely alone and miserable. His family life was cold and devoid of any love. His warmth of companionship came through high class prostitutes. He tried affairs, but due to his immense wealth, they often turned ugly, with the women attempting to blackmail and bleed money from him and thus his safest option was a few favorite professionals. He died of slow poisoning. Fay lived to see him become miserable and finally killed him slowly and in an untraceable manner.

It is after Fay dies that Byron, in his grief, turns to politics to try to fix the awful world and deal with his anger over her death and a lifetime of resentment toward his father. This all comes out in his political stance, which is impassioned and makes him very noticeable and quite popular amongst a certain segment of New Albion.

Byron is gay and it should be noted that this fact does not come into conflict with his political convictions. However he has no lovers and perhaps few if any real friends. What he does have is Jasper the Doll. Jasper the Doll, who was first brought back by Annabelle and then again by Edgar (since he was in fact Fay’s father) is still in the family, passed down to Byron. In fact Byron bonded with Jasper while still a child and now in adulthood continues to keep Jasper with him at all times. This type of behavior is not uncommon in New Albion these days. Many citizens take a certain special Doll, that is a dear departed loved one, with them wherever they go.

A question could be raised as to whether Byron is attached to the Doll obsessively  because he is stuck in the comfortable child-like relationship he had with Jasper which was similar to a child and his teddy bear, or whether Byron is in fact someway in love with Jasper and therefore unintersted in pursuing real world sexual and romantic relations. This is unclear, perhaps even unlikely, but what is clear is that Byron desperately wishes Jasper could communicate more openly and intimately with him. Despite his attachment to the Doll, they never the less have a huge distance between them because of Jasper’s lack of communication.

While he is pleading with Jasper on a one to one personal level, these kids are getting together and enacting these huge, garrish, blasphemic Voodoo rituals, channeling and venerating the dead, and it anger Byron outrageously. All this feeds into his political passion and positions and makes him all the more charismatic.

Naturally, in Byron’s love for Jasper is wrapped up his misplaced love for his father. Unable to love his father out of resentment, he kept his father emotionally distant, which was easy since Edgar spent more and more time away from his family and terrible home life. Thus Jasper’s emotional distance resembled his father, but Jasper was passive and harmless, unable to inflict any sort of pain and torment on the world. Or Byron. Jasper’s hyper passivity is the perfect antithesis to his father’s central act of cruelty.

Jasper, the Doll, is meanwhile learning how to use his ability to transmit radio to work out a way to communicate with the living, so that he can acheive his ultimate objective of being dead again and released from his miserable existence living in the mannequin body.

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Posted by on February 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Character Background 3: Jasper, The Dead Guy

As we prepare to begin composition of the 3rd Act (in about 2 weeks) it’s becoming time to address the one character in the entire Opera who is in all 4 Acts, present in all 4 generations the show encompasses. Jasper. Who, ironically, died before the opera even begins.

At the moment i’m leaning towards 3 of the 4 generations being in love with him (Annabel, Byron and Priscilla). In any case, who is he?

Jasper comes from a family with a very respected name who was once extremely well off, but who has, within the past few generations, watched their fortune ebb away. The family name is still worth something, but there is not much behind it anymore.

Because of this, Jasper has been raised with a great deal of pressure to rescue the family name and fortune and restore the once proud line to the status they deserve. Unfortunately, Jasper really doesn’t care about all of this. He is quite content to settle down on the family’s country estate far outside of New Camden and pursue his passion for horticulture. He is interested in creating small scale food forests on limited land which can produce massive amounts and varieties of food which a family or individual can live off of indefinitely.

This is all well and good, but his family still wants their fortune back, while he argues that he can feed them and future generations and  money need not be so great of an issue. These discussions never go well, and despite his convictions, he has been raised from birth to shoulder the family expectations, and so cannot just walk away. His mother uses a potent blend of guilt and pity which Jasper, although aware of and despises, is unable to emotionally resist.

His marriage was carefully arranged while he was still in his early teens, something that he resents.  He met Annabell shortly before the wedding and was quite taken with her, although he only saw her one night. He forgot her soon afterwards.

The marriage is an unhappy one. He sees his wife as vain and shallow. She is actually quite industrious and focused, however she too is from a family with good name but waining fortune and has fully bought into the need to make as much money as possible over the course of her life in order to restore the two families’ greatness. She has less than no interest in Jasper’s interests and is disgusted with him for his reluctuance to go out and make his fortune.

He finds himself able to spend less and less time on his life’s passion, and is pushed into being a stockbroker. Interestingly enough, he has a sharp mind for it, the same logic that makes him a brilliant horticulturalist also makes him capable for being a successful stockbroker, but instead, he is complete failure at it. This is because he subconsciously sabotages himself. His resentment for his mother and wife comes out in his deliberate attempts to fail at the money making business.

The only good aspect of his otherwise miserable life is the birth of his daughter, Fay, who he loves deeply. Alas, while she is still a young child he is involved in the accident that kills him.

He is naturally somewhat surprised and not particularly pleased when he finds himself brought back from the dead by Annabel, and far less so when he is brought back later by Edgar, but the notion of seeing his daughter again calms him somewhat. Thus he remains trapped once again in the mortal coil.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Character Background 2: Edgar McAlistair

As we move into the 2nd Act, we arrive at the 2nd generation of McAlistairs, Annabel’s son, Edgar.

Who is he?

At the outset of the 2nd Act he is young, early to mid 20 something, no older than 25.

He is Annabel’s son. After the events of Act 1 she eventually married. Her husband was an intelligent and caring man, not very interesting or charismatic, but he could keep up generally with most of her conversation, was kind in all the small ways that make home life pleasant, and was meak enough and able to get lost in his own bookish interests that he didn’t mind Annabel’s absences when she would lock herself in her lab for days on end.

Edgar loved his father, but his father’s meakishness and boring demeanor prohibited him from being a notable role model for the boy. Edgar was always  much more enamored with his mother, who was loving and doting when it occured to her to be, and so unusual, unpredictable and interesting that he all but worshipped her.

The additional quality that cemented his adoration was the fact that while she was a loving mother, she was distractable, moody, and capable of wandering off to work out a theory or locking herself in her lab for days on end. She was not always available, either mentally or physically. This made her almost like a drug to Edgar, for he never knew when she would disconnect again.

This might have had consequences in Edgar’s teenage years, but sadly, Annabel did not make it that far. She died when he was 11 and he was raised from there on solely by his father. The loss was unbearable to Edgar. His sadness and longing and rage were almost impossible for a 12 year old to deal with.

He hit adolescence immediately afterwards.  While young men typically like to “play the field” and wrack up romantic and sexual experience, Edgar was instead very focused, loyal, and rigidly monogamous. He has abandonment issues with women, and becomes very attached to a woman,  or in his young life, girls. Girls of adolescence naturally are not so focused and like to play the field themselves, and Edgar could be very attractive at first since he has a certain intensity, but his over attachment quickly turned them off.

However, once into his early 20s, this ceased to be an issue with the right woman, and Edgar found her. Fay is an exceptionally bright young woman, well schooled, looking for a professorship in the liberal arts, and interested in security and settling down. Edgar’s attractiveness, intelligence and unswerving loyalty were the right combination for her and they fell in love and remained together for several years, with eventual marriage being a given assumption.

Unfortunately… Edgar is bright and has a little bit of family money, nothing lavish but a modest amount to get by with, but he is absolutely unfocused, with no idea what do with himself. He has an ability for practical and tactical brilliance, but he cannot become interested in a task or career for any length of time. Since he has enough money to get by he can afford to quit whichever career he has recently lost interest in and go back to moping around the house.

This eventually drives Fay crazy. It is a major contention in their relationship.

Edgar is capable of moping around the house for weeks at a time before finally going back out to try his hand at some other pursuit, which he always eventually gives up on, only to plant himself back home and begin the moping process again. As much as Fay loves him, over time this becomes a cancer in her heart towards him.

When Fay eventually meets Sillof (note: see, i told you i’d use his name!), a young, dapper, bright and incredibly industrious man of business, who is building his own series of stores successfully from the ground up with his own vigor and positive focus, he is irresistible to Fay. Fay is the perfect compliment to Sillof, artistic where he is practical, soothing, clever and of course poetic, for Sillof  is not poetic at all, and finds it to be the most wonderful quality he can imagine, one he himself cannot possess. They are drawn together, and despite her love for Edgar, she cannot resist Sillof and leaves Edgar heartbroken and abandoned again.

And thus we begin the 2nd song of Act 2 (the first song of each Act is always a Narrator song, a tango, which brings us up to speed on how the city of New Camden has changed in the passing generation).

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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