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The Eight Moon Journey

Specific Staging Issues

There are a number of issues involved with ‘Our Country’s Good’ that need to be considered and even to have a specific concept attached to them. What follows are my ideas regarding those issues and my reasons for choosing them.

The Aborigine

This is a tricky aspect of the play. Not only is he slightly problematic as a whole, but specifically because of the way I have chosen to stage the play. The Aborigine represents the indigenous population that will, eventually, be oppressed by the British settlers. He represents a completely different sort of civilisation, one based on the idea of magic and dreams. This comes in direct conflict with the pragmatic British whose very presence is as a result of practical social cleansing – dumping the worst of society on the other side of the world.

How should the actor look as the Aborigine? Research will show that their clothing at the time was very minimal, as befitting such an extreme environment. They will have also been adorned with some form of body paint. However, the biggest concern for me as director is the fact that the scene changes have to be slick and the actor playing the Aborigine will be needed in the first scene, then perform scene two before another quick change before re-appearing as Tench for scene three – all in view of the audience.

Therefore his costume will be shirtless, with body paint and an aboriginal skirt type affair that will be worn over the trousers the actor wears throughout the play. I need to remember that it doesn’t have to be completely realistic, just as the officer’s costume is worn over the actors convict costume, so can the aborigine’s. In fact, maybe he can retain his shirt and simply wear a collection of beads. This will need to be researched further.

The Whip

My original idea for this was to have two Sideways – one played by the actor and the other represented by a dummy. The dummy is then physically and severely whipped, while the actor responds as if he was actually being whipped. This would have created an interesting V-Effekt, but I decided in this production it would have been complicated if not a little bizarre.

Instead I am simply having an actor mime whipping and Sideway react as if being whipped, accompanied by a sound effect that will strive to do nothing more than indicate the sound of what is happening, not try to be too realistic.

The Hunting Rifle

For scene three, Punishment, I like the idea of having an aristocratic walking stick to represent the rifle. This will emphasise the bourgeois notion of shooting for fun that juxtaposes the discussion of the correct, humane punishment for convicts. This would be quite an interesting Gestic idea. However, I also like the idea of having a very realistic looking gun, a case of Brechtian selective realism: a gun that suits the period and looks well used, worn over time. At this point I am not sure which way to go – I am sure budget and practicality will dictate my final decision.

The Loneliness of Men/Ralph Clark Tries to Kiss His Dear Wife’s Picture

The creation of a tent is the difficulty here. In a large scale production, a flown piece of material could represent the tent or even a piece of gauze so that the actors are actually behind material. Then there is the bed that has to come on and off. I will use the curtain at the rear of the stage that will act as the entrance of the tent, with faint light so that Harry and Ketch can be seen just before entering the tent. The bed will be created by pushing together some of the boxes and placing a blanket and a crude pillow on them. The scene will be finished off with a table and candle.

The Authorities Discuss the Merits of the Theatre

The staging of the scene will evolve through rehearsal and the actors’ engagement with the various gests of their characters. However, I intend that the boxes and seats create a crescent shape with the centre, where Phillip is seated, upstage. The characters will then spread from that point depending upon their attitude and their relationship with other characters.

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