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The Eight Moon Journey

Scene By Scene

Act One

Act Two

The Voyage Out
A Lone Aboriginal Australian
Loneliness of Men
An Audition
The Authorities Discuss the Merits of the Theatre
Harry and Duckling Go Rowing
The Women Learn Their Lines
Ralph Clark Tries to Kiss His Dear Wife’s Picture
John Wisehammer and Mary Brenham Exchange Words
The First Rehearsal

Visiting Hours
His Excellency Exhorts Ralph
Harry Brewer Sees the Dead
The Aborigine Muses on the Nature of Dreams
The Second Rehearsal
The Science of Hanging
The Meaning of Plays
Duckling Makes Vows/A Love Scene
The Question of Liz


Intention: The Aborigine is present at the beginning of the scene, suffering from small pox and as such my actor may have make up on – it will be applied where the audience can see and removed where they can see depending upon what it looks like. This time there will be no sense of the world of the colonists melting away like a dream – it will be as if the Aborigine has realised the colonists are real after all. The stage will be clear so that the audience can see the back curtains unimpeded. As different characters arrive and move around preparing there will be different groupings that will show the changes the convicts have gone through to get to this moment. One problem is that they are supposed to be preparing for the performance and so they would have some kind of costumes. My approach will be the fact that they are a colony in the farthest outpost of the Empire and as such have very limited equipment and stores. Therefore they will have either the crudest of garments that are supposed to represent the characters, especially the soldiers, or they ‘borrow’ the uniforms of soldiers such as Ralph, or they have nothing at all. The reactions of the convicts as the play begins will be vital so they will be facing down stage and thus the audience. Arscott and Caesar will go through the curtains upstage as if stepping out onto the stage and will be lit so that the audience can see them through the cloth. There will be the sound of the crowd of soldiers and convicts watching. As Arscott comes to the end of his lines the lights will fade as the actors hold positions that show their new attitudes and a musician will play out rather than the Beethoven as stated in the text.

Performance Outcome

This is the last scene of the play and as such needs to be the climactic point. We are set a number of difficulties by the text with our staging. There is the aborigine, with reference to pustules on the skin and possible make up, there is the issue of the convicts preparing for performance with reference to putting on make-up and costume, and then there is the need for somewhere for Arscott and Caesar to exit to when starting ‘The Recruiting Officer’.

The approach to the Aborigine has become a sense of what seemed a dream (the colonists) has become a nightmarish reality. Hugh, as The Aborigine, will not have make up on but simply state he has pustules. He will also limp on, leaning on his spears as a sign of his physical decay. The Aborigine’s music will be nightmarishly distorted at this point to further reflect this change.

The convicts come on as soon as The Aborigine is in place and begin as soon as he is finished, indicating that their worlds have overlapped and the colony is now the dominant force. The convicts will be carrying small items of costume that they put on to indicate the character they play in ‘The Recruiting Officer’. This will by-pass any problems of extra costume and make-up that we don’t need as a result our performance style.

What follows is a scene made up of vignettes of character interaction. This, again, poses problems for us in our staging. The result has been a fluid movement of characters that injects pace into the scene, useful in reflecting their nervousness and allows use to neglect the ‘reality’ of the situation. I am less concerned with making the convicts look like they are about to go on stage than show the journey they have made. Thus we found that a closing image of the convicts grouped together resembled the opening image and gave us a contrasting image to the opening scene of degradation, illustrating their redemptive growth through the development of the play. It is a scene that shows that these characters that live for the moment who expect nothing of tomorrow, or even expect to have a tomorrow, now have a future beyond the scope of the play. This idea has now become a slight problem as we have to find a way for the characters to say their ‘tomorrows’, indicating their thoughts of the future, without seeming ‘cheesey’ or mawkish in any way.

Of all the moments that are found in this scene the most interesting is Mary’s reaction to Ralph’s decision that their first daughter will be named after his wife. There is no avoidance of the fact that this is unsettling for Mary – she has chosen a difficult road for love and for betterment, as the characters of ‘The Recruiting Officer’ do, but she is left in doubt as to Ralph’s motives. He was, after all, motivated by his sexual desires, as we see in the scenes when he is wrestling with his conscience. Yet he obviously has not let go of the past and as such questions whether he could possibly love Mary. This is all captured in one quick moment, Amy reacting as Arscott drags Caesar on stage. After a few more run throughs I may look at ways of emphasising that moment.

There is also a comic element involving Caesar. Brendan is a lot smaller than Hugh so when Arscott is violently grabbing Caesar and pushing him on stage it will look quite comical.

The end is a key moment. When Arscott and Caesar step out onto the stage they exit upstage and can be seen through the curtains. The remaining convicts move to the edge of the stage listening to the performance, unified as a group. Ralph takes a position upstage near the curtain. This will then echo the opening of the play. Importantly I am putting Mary with the convicts, linking with her line to Caesar that they are a family now, rather than with Ralph and so emphasising the impact made by his reference to his wife.

Having decided not to use the music mentioned in the text I am either going to have the fiddle player play out into a fade to black or use the sound of the audience backstage, who cheer and applaud when Arscott and Caesar exit, and have it build to a crescendo of applause and cheers.

I think this scene rounds our performance off really well. The movement of the characters is fluent and the pace allows the audience to focus upon all of the key moments of conversation, giving the scene a fluidity. We never really focussed upon the idea that they are about to go on stage, the journey of the characters is more important. Therefore the characters practicing lines and moves, and the small suggestion of costume works well. The delivery of the prologue works well, particularly with the positioning of the characters. The final positioning – Caesar and Arscott off upstage and the others gathered downstage with Ralph watching from behind the curtain – works really well.  



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