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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

His Excellency Exhorts Ralph

Intention: Just a table and chair on stage. The table will have a decanter of wine or port as a reminder that, although Phillip speaks very eloquently of the situation of the convicts, he still has access to privileges. There is a key dialectic happening in this scene. We see Phillip’s Gest clearly in the scene, we can see what kind of man he is and what attitude he represents. What is unclear is where Ralph stands. Up until now he has been simply ambitious and the play is a means of gaining favour with Phillip, however by angering Ross and the other officers he has made it more difficult to gain promotion. However, the first inklings of his change in character can be found in this scene; he accepts Phillip’s point of view and continues along a road that has no hope for himself and instead has hope for the convicts. This will need to be communicated by the actors.

Performance Outcome

This is a crucial scene for Phillips, as well as Ralph. This scene clearly defines his philosophy, his Gest in the play. During our rehearsal we discovered a sense that Phillip is almost on another plane intellectually from the other characters. His is thinking above and beyond the colony – unlike many of the other characters, soldier and convict alike, who see only their entrapment of one form or another. Hugh has very clear ideas as to Phillip’s immersion in this high level thinking. As such I have tried to have him speak out to the audience, clearly directing the dialectical aspects of what he says to them, yet finding the key moments of connection with Ralph where he can turn to him and speak to him directly.

Interestingly, although the scene starts with Phillip suggesting Ralph wants to halt the production, Matt felt that Ralph wants affirmation from Phillip that what he is doing is right. That he is recognising the path he must take and so he wants reassurance from Phillip – which I thought was an interesting approach.

Thus, in the staging of the scene, we have two chairs and a table. At first Ralph stands and Phillip hardly seems to be really listening to Ralph. Then Phillip asks Ralph to sit and then he is soon standing and talking of humane treatment of a human being. He soon makes Ralph realise that he is intent upon not allowing Liz to hang and the key to that happening is the play. Ralph has achieved what he wanted: he has taken on an important role for Phillip. Yet we want to make it clear that this is not any easy role by emphasising the fact that Ralph has made an enemy of Ross and that he will be threatened (as happens in the nest scene). Thus Ralph has a choice: stop and save his prospects for promotion or continue and sacrifice his prospects for the betterment of the convicts. As such Matt has found a great moment for showing this moment of choice. Matt looks as if he is to leave with the thought in mind, pauses, hesitates and then turns and delivers the ‘I will lay down my life’ line with an intense seriousness, thus highlighting his acceptance of taking this option rather than another. It also allows us to find a lighter, comic moment with Phillip’s reply and Ralph’s realisation of what he’s said.

A brilliantly written scene that has grown for me in performance. This scene and the second rehearsal are really important. Phillip articulates a very persuasive, humanitarian argument while placing a choice in front of Ralph: continue with the play and proceed down a road that will have a civilising effect upon the convicts but at the sacrifice of his own career. Hugh really demonstrates the key qualities of Phillip well in the scene and Matt allows the audience to see the challenge that is laid down for Ralph. I particularly like the moment of humour created when Ralph, melodramatically, says he will lay down his life for the play.


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