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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

The First Rehearsal

Intention: There will be some boxes to indicate that this space is the same place that all rehearsals take place in. They will offer levels for actors to sit and stand and also give an open space in which to ‘perform’. The convicts will start on stage and the arrangement will be important as the sense of self sufficiency, distrust of others etc is still overriding. There will be a fast pace to the scene emphasising the comic elements and also a sense of near chaos. It is important that it is clear that the convicts have knowledge of the attempted escape and Caesar’s arrival is a result of its failure. There should be a sense of humour in Ralph’s naivety that stems from his lack of understanding of the convicts as people rather than animals that are merely a means to an end for Ralph. The tone needs to change dramatically when Ross and Campbell arrive. On the page the end of the scene can be a bit flat which is problematic as it is the end of the first half and so should be quite climactic. I will consider the use of instruments here and the fact that at this point the actors can actually leave the stage now to indicate the end of the half.

Performance Outcome

The challenge of the four ‘play scenes’ – ‘The First Rehearsal’, ‘The Second Rehearsal’, ‘The Meaning of Plays’ and ‘Backstage’ – is that the staging that we have chosen creates problems in terms of sight lines and positioning, particularly as in some of those scenes the entire cast of ten actors are on stage, together, in what amounts to a small space.

This scene needs to have the sense of fledgling actors, with little sense of theatre except their observations of the theatre as outsiders. I have discussed Sideway’s theatrical prowess with Craig, who plays Sideway, and we came to the conclusion that he may well have been to the theatre, maybe passing himself off as a ‘gentleman’ as he claims and so has seen theatre. Yet, it is clear through his approach to performing that he hasn’t a firm grasp upon what good acting is. This is supposed to provide a comic contrast to the end of the scene.

The general staging allows us to have the convicts not performing sat further upstage, watching the rehearsing actors who rehearse with Ralph downstage. This allows for reaction from the convicts, establishing their characters even when not speaking and for further comic moments, such as when Ralph demonstrates to Liz how a rich lady would stand and the other convicts silently snigger, unseen, behind him.

A feature of our staging that will be effective is when Graeme exits as Ketch and returns as Ross, the fact the audience will see the costume change will take away the surprise factor of Ross’ entrance into the scene.

Ross’ arrival signals the end of the half and also a shift in the tone of the scene. His enjoyment of taking away Ralph’s hopes for the play and those of the convicts is evident. I was particularly taken with Graeme’s delivery of his final line. After telling Ralph and the convicts that Wisehammer and Caesar will be punished and Liz executed, he turns to Ralph and with a half smile quite casually says ‘And now you may continue to rehearse Lieutenant Clark’ before leaving. After Campbell’s line the actors leave the stage through the curtains at the back, leaving the auditorium for the first time, signalling the end of the scene and the first half.

One key moment that needs to be emphasised is the moment when, having accidentally interrupted Liz in full flow, Ralph sees his error and apologises. Both Ralph’s apology and Liz’s embarrassment must be conveyed to show the growing change in Ralph and the convicts.

This is a wonderful scene on the page and it’s important to get it right. There are lots of opportunities for comedy, which is good for lightening the mood of the play. We have some good cheap gags – delaying the line ‘that’s the ladies’ after the women have had a brawl for instance. Craig is vital to this scene, he’s got the natural physical style of performance for Sideway and he has grown even since the first night. I love the energy and exuberance, as well as finding the contrasting moments when he can drop volume and excess in performance. I particularly like his working through of the lines and adding an action per line and then running them all together. He’s also got some of our biggest laughs with his improvised responses to other characters’ lines – telling Wisehammer to shut up when stating lines cannot be added to the play; the realisation that Caesar will make his character look more Chic and so on. Hugh’s entrance as Caesar is worth noting here too.

The part of the scene involving Liz and Mary also has some good moments. Liz’s running of her lines in one rush is good, but the interruptions of Ralph have proved tricky – it’s taken a few performances to iron out a few problems there. There is a real magic moment when, after Liz points out that Mary did not look at her, Ralph has Mary turn to look at Liz but ends up locking eyes with her. There is an electric pause as they acknowledge each other and then the scene progresses.

Ross’ entrance is crucial in the changing of the tone of the scene before the interval, creating a sense of climax. Graeme’s Ross has become an intensely dislikeable character and this is compounded by the convicts’ reaction to his arrival, shrinking into obscurity, hoping not to be seen. There is a great moment when Graeme uses a stick to push Matt’s chin up showing he’s not averse to abusing his own officers.


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