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The Eight Moon Journey

Scene By Scene

Act One

Act Two

Pre-Set
The Voyage Out
A Lone Aboriginal Australian
Punishment
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

Pre-Set
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
Backstage

Visiting Hours

Intention: The stage will be bare apart from maybe one or two very small boxes to sit on, thus making the sense of the prison as an uncomfortable place. The light will be dimmed, with maybe a strong light through cell bars. The actors will be placed around the stage, Liz downstage centre, Wisehammer up left of her and Caesar up right and Arscott upstage centre slumped across a box. Liz will then speak directly to the audience, obviously breaking the fourth wall although the last few lines will change as if in conversation with Wisehammer. During her speech images that match her story will be projected on the screen. There is the issue of her language in the speech. It could be done with other actors creating a series of tableau that illustrate the story as it’s told, but I think most of the words can be understood through context. Also the language works as a slight distancing effect, not just as an example of realistic language, in the way that it forces the audience to search for the meaning of what she has to say. Also, this speech courts the audience’s sympathy – they have seen how unsympathetic Liz can be as a character, now we have an explanation for her situation and her behaviour. I want the audience to consider the notion of environment creating the criminal, not to be emotionally attached to Liz’s situation. The rest of the scene plays out in a relatively straight forward way, except for the key moment when the convicts try to bring some civility to their situation by rehearsing in the prison. Here it is crucial to highlight the new found sense of purpose that the convicts have.

Rehearsal
Text
Performance Outcome
18/09/06

Visiting HoursOur key Gest for this scene is the sense that the convicts in the cell have been thinking only of themselves. They are divided in their thoughts and from each other. Yet the convicts that enter at the end have been thinking of the others, in terms of pushing the play forward together. Thus this is the first step in the unity of the convicts and their ultimate redemption.

The opening speech, Liz’s life story, is tough. Tough because it is full of the slang and vernacular of the criminal classes of 18th century London – tough for the actor and tough for the audience. I have had many different ideas of how to convey this speech: a crash montage, using the other prisoners to enact each step in the story; using projections to convey the story; having the actor put a different, clear gesture with each line. However, listening to Leasa work through the speech for the first time, I realised all of those ideas are superfluous. Although the language is strange, with clear intonation that finds and uses the meaning of those words, alongside a detached delivery, the speech is remarkably clear. What seems unintelligible on the page makes clear sense when there is a connection between actor and audience. The only real work I needed to do was find some specific moments that required a certain emphasis to carry a bit more of the meaning.

I wanted to put an emphasis upon the sense of the four characters being close together in the cell, yet separated by their own sense of self concern. As such the characters are all facing a slightly different direction, with Arscott particularly separate, upstage and turned completely away from the others, as he is the most brutalised of the characters.

When the Sideway, Mary and Duckling enter they are a force of unity. They have been thinking about the others, they have been doing something about moving the play – the joint venture – forward. So, when they begin to talk of rehearsing Arscott and Caesar move across to join them. Wisehammer too is talked around, leaving Liz isolated on her own downstage. This is a key moment for Liz – does she choose to reject the others and stay isolated but tough in her independence? Or does she accept the overtures of the others and become part of the group and opening the possibility of vulnerability? At this point Sideway sweeps up to her and makes a big deal of giving her fan, allowing Liz to accept the others and choosing to be part of the group rather than outside of it. This is a step towards her redemption.

I’m really pleased with where Leasa’s arrived with Liz’s speech. It would be easy to do something with it to make it more understandable, yet the simple delivery – the cool delivery produced through our rehearsal process – and the simple lighting makes it clearly effective. The rest of the scene works really well, particularly the humour found in Arscott’s ignorance. The stage shape that ends the scene with the group of convicts upstage and Liz downstage works really well, and seems to be appreciated by our audience – one night I heard a student comment ‘oh, that’s good’.

 

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