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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

Duckling Makes Vows/A Love Scene

Intention: These are the only two scenes, other than the Aborigine scene, that will overlap in terms of action. Again, I could be breaking one of my own conventions here but I hope it will be effective enough to be worth while. The first scene will have Duckling cradling a dying Harry up stage left. It is important to communicate the sense of what Duckling stands to lose with Harry’s death – the privileges and so on. At the end of the scene I intend to have Mary Brenham step over the prostrate forms of Duckling and Harry, into the space downstage for her scene. I hope that this will be a kind of V-Effekt, that Mary is about to take a similar role to Duckling as Duckling is about to drop back down with the rest of the convicts. It is a well received interpretation of ‘A Love Scene’ that just as Mary has gained in confidence through the liberating effect of theatre, so too Ralph has become much more tolerant and humane, as well as sexually liberated, through his work with the convicts. I, however, am taking a different view. I think it a much more Brechtian scene if it is an exchange – Mary’s sexual favour for the privileges of being Ralph’s mistress – ‘the barter of perishable goods’. It is much more an economic decision on Mary’s part, linking with the gesture of having her step over Duckling. After all Brecht himself said: ‘Food first, morals later.’ This will, of course change if my actors really do not want to do it that way.

Performance Outcome

A Love SceneHaving explored a sense of distance between Duckling and Harry previously, I wanted to continue this here but in reverse. The scene opens with Duckling separate from the dying Harry. As the scene progresses and she confesses to her faults, through her vows to do the things she’s never done, she gets closer to him until when she touches him she realises he’s dead. The conflicting lines ‘I hate you…No. I love you’ opened the door for Duckling to lash out at Harry, slamming her arms down onto his prostrate body. Then, when she admits to loving him far too late, she lies beside him on the floor, arm draped over him.

The scene is difficult as there is no preamble; it is straight into an intense and repetitive series of lines. Having focussed upon the blocking of the movement, the nest time we do this scene we need to focus upon the intention behind each line.

At the end of Duckling Makes Vows, I want to move straight into A Love Scene. My intention is to have Amy, as Mary, step into the space by stepping over Helen and Brendan who remain on the stage. This is a visual reminder of a previous relationship between officer and convict as this new one begins. The difficulty of steeping over them is that two people make quite a large obstacle and, when wearing her dress, Amy may not be able to step completely over them without tripping.

 I feel that both Mary and Ralph know where the relationship is going and that there is an exchange being agreed in the scene. However, I am open to discussion with my actors and this what I encouraged during this rehearsal. Matt’s point of view was that Ralph has, at this point, finally accepted that he cannot hold onto his old world, English, morality in this new world with its new rules. His frustrations and longing has got the better of him and that he compromises his moral stance. He does so with Mary because, through the rehearsal process, he sees her as being above the normal convict class, that there is something ‘better’ about her – a result of the play.

Amy, however, felt that maybe Mary does genuinely feel something akin to love for Ralph. She acknowledges that being with Ralph has its advantages for Mary, but she doesn’t do anything in the scene until she knows Ralph’s intentions. This was interesting because they, as actors, were not in complete agreement. Also, crucially, we have yet to tackle the preceding scenes that lead up to this scene, thus taking away any opportunity to explore the development of their relationship – this is purely down to the availability of actors for rehearsal and the realities of real life commitments.

We ran the scene through and then I asked each to explain to the other what their character’s Gest was in the scene. I then asked them to swap roles, demonstrating to the other how their role could be performed according to their Gest, whilst also observing what the other was doing. This was very useful as Amy was very direct as Ralph, acting upon his comment that he now knew what he wanted before entering into the scene, and Matt was very meek but when asked to live with Ralph his ‘yes’ was quick and assured.

Using this in another run through I became struck at how important the dialogue from ‘The Recruiting Officer’ is in the scene. Mary is able to directly reference the nature of her relationship with Ralph without being impertinent. This gave Amy something to think about. We will look at this again when we have tackled the rehearsal scenes that build up to this scene. To be continued…

Both these scenes work for me. Helen really does a good job with a difficult scene to perform. I like the fact that Duckling and Harry are then left on stage as a reminder during the next scene.

There has been a sense of controversy around ‘A Love Scene’ – although it’s a strong word to use. During one of the performances I could almost hear the students that had come to see it saying ‘that’s not right’. I wanted to show the scene in the light of the way we’ve approached the rest of the play. In that sense there is no room for real ‘love’. Maybe Mary feels something for Ralph, but she won’t be completely ignorant of the benefits, especially after what Wisehammer has said to her, but maybe she’s naïve enough to think something genuinely heartfelt could arise. Yet, we have seen Ralph’s developing attraction to Mary set against his struggles with conscience. I simply asked myself does this scene show a man in love? I felt it didn’t – he sees her as Sylvia because Sylvia is a Lady, not a convict. She has become something other than she is and that makes it OK. This links to both Dabby’s comment that love is a barter and also the fact that Ralph suggests that they call their daughter Betsey Alicia after his wife. This is not something a man who truly loved a woman would say. Therefore I see the scene title as ironic. In these terms I am happy with the results, even if it only challenges the audience to consider what is happening.

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