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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 Meaning of Plays

Intention: Another rehearsal scene, again the space having already been delineated. The attitudes presented by the convicts are essential here. Therefore the thrust of the scene is the convict attitudes or gests. Therefore rehearsals will focus upon the communication of those points of view and the unravelling of the good work that the convicts have done. There is also the motives of the convict characters, what they really want, underlying the scene. I want to highlight a moment in the scene that captures the choice that Mary Brenham makes between Wisehammer and Ralph Clark.

Rehearsal Text Performance Outcome

In many respects this is the easiest scene to direct in terms of staging. Although it is a ‘rehearsal’ scene, not all of the characters are present on stage – sideway is too upset to rehearse, Ketch arrives later, Liz is awaiting trial. The only character not mentioned is Duckling who I may put into the scene, although she doesn’t speak or I may leave out because she is with Harry in his dying moments.

The scene starts with the Aborigine, linking the previous scene, ‘The Science of Hanging’, with ‘The Meaning of Plays’. The characters of Harry, Liz and Ketch freeze where they are and The Aborigine springs onto the stage, looking closely at Harry’s collapsed figure. Again, before he can interact with them the characters disappear, yet at the end of this section there is a sense of overlap as the scene is established for the rehearsal before he has left and he leaves as the actors start to speak. There is a further deterioration in the music of the Aborigine.

The important elements that I want to convey are the culmination of the rivalry between Ralph and Wisehammer and Mary’s subsequent choice. Previously we have seen slight suggestions of Ralph’s dismissal of Wisehammer by continually having him ask Wisehammer to read but then change his mind. He also takes issue with a lot of what Wisehammer says in the play. The focus of their rivalry is Mary. Ralph has become attracted to her and we have seen the tender scene between Wisehammer and Mary. When Wisehammer takes Mary aside he is presenting her with a very real choice: Marry him, the man that has nothing except love and the offer of respectability, or marry Ralph, enjoying privileges but becoming an object of derision.

Again, we have tried to highlight this moment of choice by having Ralph stage left reading Wisehammer’s prologue and Wisehammer downstage right with Mary in between. As the options are laid out for her she looks from one to the other, clearly weighing up options. Later in the scene she chooses to stand by Ralph as a sign of the decision she has made.

We found it important with the rest of the scene that we didn’t do too much as the lines really speak for themselves: the mention of actors doubling up; the notion of a theatre that makes you think; an audiences’ use of imagination – all make direct comment upon out production and thus need very little in the way of pointing for the audience.

I made an earlier entry about how this scene ought to direct it self. In some ways this is true – there’s no need to labour the ironic points about having actors play more than one part – yet it also proved to be difficult. It was one of the last scenes to be finished in rehearsal so the actors came to the final few run throughs feeling that it was a weak scene and to worried about. During the last few runs Matt in particular began to get frustrated and that frustration began to feed into his performance. It was at this point I discovered how the scene ought to be done. Sometimes these things are obvious and you just can’t see the woods for the trees. So, instead of being the problem scene it has become one of the best as the characters get more and more frustrated and the anger boils over into many comic moments. An enjoyable scene in the difficult second half.


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