Meet Edgar Allan Poe (Ballet Fantastique Guest Artist Alastair Morley Jaques)


Guest artist Alastair Morley Jaques is “Edgar Allan Poe” for Ballet Fantastique’s   Nevermore: Stories of Edgar Allan Poe   world premiere, Oct. 25-27, 2019 at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

Guest artist Alastair Morley Jaques is “Edgar Allan Poe” for Ballet Fantastique’s Nevermore: Stories of Edgar Allan Poe world premiere, Oct. 25-27, 2019 at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

Tell us about your background.

I'm an Oregon native and I studied theatre and literature, with a special focus on the nineteenth century, at the U of O and the Evergreen State College. About ten years ago, I began developing a live, one-person show about early nineteenth century literary great Edgar Allan Poe. This involved not only total immersion in Poe's stories and poems, which I specialize in performing, but also on the biography and the character of Poe the person.



Why are you excited to be involved in this performance, and how is it different from what you've done in the past?

This performance will be an exciting and expansive experience for me. Nearly all of my past performances consist of me standing, moving about the stage, and talking at great length, unaided by any sort of music of visual display. It's really just me and Poe up there most of the time. Ballet Fantastique's blending of music and dance with the dark lyricism and themes of Edgar Allan Poe is a wholly new experience for me and my ever evolving interpretation of the stories and poems. And it's a melding of artistic perspectives of which I think Poe would have approved. Not only did Poe speak of "the pleasure derivable from sweet sounds with the capacity for creating them" in his lesser known but highly influential work "The Island of the Fay," but he also made sure to include ballet dancers among the macabre amusements offered up in "The Masque of the Red Death."



What intrigued you about connecting with Ballet Fantastique and doing a performance in Eugene/the Pacific Northwest?

Well, just as Poe was a proud southern boy, I'm a son of Cascadia and love working with arts and educational organizations of the Pacific Northwest. While my Poe engagements have taken me as far as Chicago this year, it's always to Oregon that I return for the latter part of October. Working with a premier Oregon arts organization like Ballet Fantastique is just the sort of collaboration I try to exemplify in all of my productions, both Poe-related and otherwise: Classic works of American literature, but done in that ineffable but instantly identifiable Oregon way by Oregon artists and craftspersons. Again, Poe was from Virginia and died ten years before Oregon was granted statehood, but he was a weirdo and an outsider…and Oregon loves weirdos and outsiders. We celebrate and glorify them in a way that I think Poe would have appreciated. He did write one piece that talked about the expanding United States and what was, for him, the most far flung boundaries of civilization in the Pacific Northwest in a critical essay entitled "Astoria.”

Alastair Morley Jaques in costume as Edgar Allan Poe.

Alastair Morley Jaques in costume as Edgar Allan Poe.