Production Profile: The Dolls of New Albion

production profile dolls of new albion

ANNOUNCEMENT: NTSA has decided to bring Paul Shapera’s The Dolls of New Albion to New York City this summer. Instead of being a regional production, this steampunk chamber opera will be playing a special one-night only engagement on Sunday, July 29 at the Theatre Under St. Peter’s.

Recorded in 2012, The Dolls of New Albion has managed to amass a cult following despite only receiving scattershot productions at fringe festivals and in black-box theatres. This is due to the genius of composer Paul Shapera who has built an entire universe full of possessed automatons, voodoopunk cults, anarchist revolutions, sinister backwoods carnivals, and a parallel universe that would put H.P. Lovecraft to shame. The story of New Albion, an unusual town erected around a game of cards carried out by a gambler and a monk, has spanned a complete trilogy (The Dolls of New Albion, The New Albion Radio Hour, and The New Albion Guide to Analogue Consciousness), as well as various stand-alone chapters (like the hauntingly noir “New Albion 7” featured on Fairy Tales for the Lost and Wandering), odes to side characters mentioned in prologues and transitions (like The Room Beneath New Albion), and an entirely new trilogy about the neighboring town of Lost Hallow.

On AO3, you can find over twenty fanfics written about New Albion. You can find DeviantArt illustrations of central characters like Annabel McAlistair and automaton Jasper. Fans have even written essays detailing how currency works in New Albion and sketching out the cartography of the districts. The fandom for this odd little chamber opera far exceeds that of most Broadway musicals.

production profile dolls of new albion 2

(Artwork by Gabisakura)

So what is The Dolls of New Albion? The show chronicles four generations of the McAlistair Family, starting with genius scientist Annabel McAlistair. Raised by parents who valued achievement above everything else, Annabel spent her entire life isolated in her laboratory — except for a brief romantic moment that she shared with former classmate Jasper. Unfortunately, she was expelled from school (for performing scientific experiments on stolen corpses), and Jasper married someone else. She kept tabs on him as they grew older, and when she heard of his death, she was absolutely heartbroken. She became obsessed with the idea of resurrecting him from the dead and, as a scientific genius, she ultimately achieved that aim — trapping his soul inside a metal automaton. While he’s initially unable to communicate with her, she eventually discovers that he’s miserable, having been pulled out of the afterlife, and disassembles him.

Unfortunately, things don’t get much better for the McAlistair Family — from son Edgar who discovers Annabel’s research and starts a company reuniting customers with their deceased loved ones (all to trap ex-girlfriend Fay in a loveless marriage) to closeted grandson Byron who joins the voodoopunk movement and decides to run a “doll” for public office. This installment in the trilogy ends with Priscilla McAlistair who lives in isolation with her only friend, the once-again resurrected Jasper automaton. Like her great-grandmother, Priscilla also decides to make a major sacrifice to end Jasper’s torment — and kickstart the events New Albion’s Civil War and The New Albion Radio Hour.

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(Artwork by Saraah11)

We’ve been fans of the New Albion series since the first album was released, and we’ve been waiting for the perfect year to tackle the first installment in the trilogy with our students. If you’re interested in the world of New Albion (and what happens to the McAlistairs after Soldier 7285 walks away from the wreckage), we highly encourage you to check out Paul Shapera’s albums. We own all of them and cannot wait for the release of The Grand Cyberpunk Gala of Gabriella Gadfly: The Ballad of Lost Hallow Act 3, which will be released on February 12. You can purchase the New Albion albums on iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp and learn more about Paul Shapera’s steampunk universe on his blog.

(The entire original production of The Dolls of New Albion)

Posted on Feb 02, 2018 in About NTSA  

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