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The Eight Moon Journey


This is the trickiest part of the production for me as director. I will have to bear in mind that The Crescent Theatre is, essentially, an amateur theatre group. The actors will, mostly, have experience of two kinds of acting: the Olivier, Great British ‘Just Try Acting, Darling’ school where they just get up and do the moves and say the lines with gusto; and the Stanislavskian school of motivation, real emotion and trying to move the audience to feel genuine emotion.

There isn’t anything wrong with either of these methods – when I have acted in the past I have certainly been a keen exponent of both – but they are not right for what I am trying achieve. Of course, the play is yet to be cast and I may end up with a group of actors fully versed in Gestic acting.

The notion of Gestic acting is something that is also often hard to grasp. It is the sense of attitude with a social element, that the character represents or holds an attitude that is forged by social forces and their position within society. Yet also simultaneously holds the attitudes and opinions of the playwright and the actor playing the role. The audience should see not only the attitude of the character but also the attitude of the actor towards the character at the same time; the audience knows the actor is and is not the character at the same time.

In our production there will be a few elements worked into the show that will help take the wind out of the actors’ sails – such as never leaving the stage, carrying out costume changes in front of the audience, talking to the audience at the beginning, the music, the montage of scenes, changing characters – and so help prevent the actors falling into the trap of allowing their empathy for their character rule them on stage.

During rehearsals I will use techniques such as role swapping, speaking stage directions, adding ‘he/she said’ after speech, exaggerating characters, using stage sketches to dictate blocking, character modelling all in order to undermine the naturalism of a scene.

Our first rehearsal will be used to define the Grund Gestus of the production which will direct our rehearsals, allowing actors to identify their own Gestus within a scene. Again, this seemingly restrictive approach will in fact fire the actors’ creativity in the right direction.

As rehearsals for the show develop both myself and my actors will post reflections upon the success of the process and the techniques we use.

2/09/06 - The Cast

Since my original thoughts for the play and possible linking of characters and the casting of the actor to play them there have been changes due to the eventual casting of the play. Thus it is worthwhile making a clear list of who plays which character so that there is a clearer overview:

Captain Arthur Phillip; An Aborigine; Black Caesar – Hugh Blackwood
Major Robbie Ross; James ‘Ketch’ Freeman – Graeme Allen
Captain David Collins; Robert Sideway – Craig Hall
Captain Watkin Tench; John Wisehammer – Chris Mead
Captain Jemmy Campbell; Midshipman Harry Brewer; John Arscott – Brendan Stanley
Reverend Johnson; Mary Brenham – Amy Leadbetter
Lieutenant George Johnston; Duckling Smith; Meg Long – Helen Dyke
Lieutenant Will Dawes; Liz Morden – Leasa Clarke
Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark – Matt Banwell
Second Lieutenant William Faddy; Dabby Bryant – Katie Edwards

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The Crescent Theatre, Sheepcote Street, Birmingham B16 8AE. Company No: 699933, Charity No: 245054