Most of the characters in “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” seemed to be “bad guys”, majority prove by the end of the story that they were genuinely good people.
Oakhurst, The Innocent, Piney, Mother Shipton, and The Duchess all face different forms of failure in their respective stories, The Awakening and “The Outcasts of Poker Flat”.
First of all, it’s an interesting story with real emotional center: a group of undesirable (or, more likely, just unfortunate) people are thrown out of the mining camp of Poker Flat and left to fend for themselves. Trapped in a blizzard, the six characters react in different ways, and the ways in which they react – from noble to dastardly – reveal their personalities. The size of the ensemble – six – is manageable, split equally between male and female roles. The characters types invite a range of voices: 2 sopranos, 1 mezzo, 1 tenor, 1 baritone, 1 bass-baritone. The events take place mostly in a confined space, so it’s comparatively simple to stage. And, the characters undergo a transformation, so there is emotional growth. One character makes a supremely noble act of self-sacrifice even as another commits an incredible outrage against the group, which essentially strands them.
California, November 1850. Men came here by the thousands to find gold. Mining camps such as Poker Flat sprang up all over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Once those men were there, they soon realized that they couldn’t just pan for gold all the time. And so hundreds of women were brought in.
When was the first time you read Bret Harte’s short story The Outcasts of Poker Flat and how long after that did you go back and decide that it would be fun to adapt it into an opera?
One night, a robbery took place in Poker Flat: two prominent citizens were killed. The leaders of the town took justice into their own hands and hanged the robbers. While they were at it, they took the opportunity to cast out a few other undesirable characters.
The outcasts, making their way to Sandy Bar, encounter a young couple coming the other way: Tom Simson, a prospector, and his fiancee, Piney Woods. They are going toward Poker Flat to be married. It is now too late in the day for either group to reach its destination before dark, and so they decide to camp for the night in an abandoned shed by the roadside. Piney and Tom share a few moments together before bedding down – separately.
John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the main street of Poker Flat on the morning of the twenty third of November, 1850, he was conscious of a change in its moral atmosphere from the preceding night.
Cassie, one of the young women, was a showgirl at the Temperance House Saloon in Poker Flat. She also worked above the stairs, as they say. Asked to tell her story, she does, by way of one of her floor show tunes.
The basic outlines of the story are intact, but I have chosen to make the curve of the story one about redemption through suffering (which only partly happens in the story). The ending of my story is different, but that’s a secret which will have to wait for the full premiere! I changed some of the names of the characters and added some scenes, such as the “Saloon Song,” in which Cassie tells her story, or an ensemble number in which the characters find some whiskey and then engage in colorful insults of the Poker Flatters who threw them out. I played up a love interest between Oakhurst and Cassie (never stated, but gently hinted at in Harte’s story) Generally, I wanted to emphasize the humanity of these characters – not to have them be stereotypes or caricatures – and to make their misadventure of being trapped in a blizzard pay an emotional dividends. All of them were unfortunate in some way before the story began, and that informs their experience.
She says her name is "Saehie." is unusual in Kim's filmography in that its heroes are not marginalized characters who exist on the outskirts of society.
His real breakthrough as a dramatist came in 1982, with his semi-autobiographical Natten är dagens mor (Night is the Mother of Day), followed by Kaos är granne med Gud (Chaos is the Neighbour of God) in 1983.With Personkrets 3:1 (Category 3:1) he stepped away from the restricted milieu of the family and took to the streets of Stockholm and the social outcasts, the ones who don’t have a voice in today’s society; a locked institution with prisoners who have committed serious crimes.