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Ruby Moon

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Drama Essay

The two texts studied in class, Matt Cameron's Ruby Moon (2005) and Jane Harrison's Stolen (1998) prove to have great potential for being performed on a thrust stage. When presented with a space such as this, it allows the director to be exposed to a vast array of ideas, conventions and concepts that would not be effective on a proscenium arch stage. Through this space, the director is able to break through all traditional styles of classic shoe box theatre; creating a unique experience for the audience as opposed to just a spectacle. It cracks open wide the expressions, notions and insecurities of the text and the characters, exposing a physical sense of vulnerability and weakness.

By placing audiences on three sides of the space evolves the concept of many people peering into the lives of both Ray and Sylvie (Ruby Moon) and Sandy, Ruby, Jimmy, Anne, and Shirley (Stolen). It enforces the concept of the audience being given the opportunity to experience this fractured fairy tale or very real circumstance within a theatrical scenario. In addition, in the case of Stolen, there is a possibility to place Aboriginal audience members on one side, and white Australians on the other, giving another dimension to the audience's spectacle, witnessing not only the story of the actors, but the reactions and emotions of the opposite end of the spectrum. It enhances the intension of Harrison by not creating a sense of pity for the Aboriginal generations, but rather developing empathy and awareness that this was a very hard-hitting happening in Australia's history.

Furthermore, this space enables the audience to be engulfed in the style and world of both plays, whether it be an absurdist, gothic, fast-paced and heart wrenching Ruby Moon, or an intimate, creatively composed production of Stolen. Many may be turned away from the idea of political theatre/ Brechtian but when placed on a thrust stage, the texts still obtain the same concepts and dramatic meaning, however elements of drama such as tension, space, contrast, mood and audience/spectator relationship are magnified; focusing more on the conventions of the play as opposed to just the messages.Theatrical elements such as costume, set and lighting also have the opportunity to be re-worked and re-invented to cater for the space. Ruby Moon delivers a series of quirky characters that Ray and Sylvie visit along the street of Flaming Tree Grove. Incorporating the style of transformational acting and once more the notion of the performers and production being vulnerable, the performers do not have the time to engage in complicated costume changes, therefore change accessories such as an apron for Miss. Dulcie Doylie or a red hat for Sid, right in front of the audience's eyes. This procedure also creates a fluidity and rhythm for the piece, which was evident in a workshopped combined scene of Dawn and Sid. Simple accessories of a jumper for Dawn and hat for Sid immediately suggests who they were, and left the rest up to the imagination of the audience.

However, there was an example of another workshopped combined scene of Veronica and Sid, where the performers felt it was necessary to put on make-up and completely change the outfits, which resulted in jolted, awkward transitions, and left the audience in the dark for too long. The text is written so that clue after clue is catapulted to the audience so they have no time to think of any other possible scenario except the ones being thrown at them. In addition, through the method of quick changes, it is then possible to scatter the clothing amongst the stage, which symbolises each home upon the map of Flaming Tree Grove, or simply the filthy living room of Sylvia and Ray.

Continuing with the concept of the map of Flaming Tree Grove, through set, we can simply establish each home by allocating six separate spaces amongst the stage, with the 'Ray and Sylvie' scenes performed everywhere. By doing this, we create a board game set out as Ray or Sylvie walks to each house, taking two steps forward, and usually three steps back. Also by doing this, we give the opportunity for the audience to experience half of the houses right in front of their eyes. Simplicity also inspires the set by having a simple "waiting for Godot" style tree in the centre of the stage, plus a lamp which not only represents the lamp post, but can be used in any of the scenes. With the opening lines of the play "It begins like a fairytale" and when Dawn describes the house of Ray and Sylvie "Little white house, big red door", it ignites the image of the skeleton of a doll's house which may be placed at the back of the stage to emphasise that both Ray and Sylvie are merely in a game of child's play; a world of imagination. Having this set piece could also give the performers opportunity to pick up certain props such as the paper packages, the red book, the phone etc as they enter and exit the house. As a side note, the rocking horse could appear in the attic, rocking back and forth for the entire play. The use of the rocking horse and sticking with the "child's play" concept proved effective in Pantseat Production's interpretation (2010) as it added a playful yet eerie dimension to the piece as the horse rocked back and forth in the green light whilst Dawn appeared from behind the toy chest.

Simple sets were most effective in the workshopped performances, as it didn't take away the focus on the relationship between the two characters. One set item was particularly effective however; a lounge covered in red velvet for the Veronica scene immediately placed us in her boudoir, tying in with the re-occurring colour scheme of red which is presented throughout the text. The production of Ruby Moon presented by Sydney Theatre Company in 2011 worked against this element of the script, and taking it away further by having more realistic characters and costumes. By doing this, the audiences were lead on even more to believe that these roles are all real, however by the epilogue, where Sylvie enters as Ruby, a fault occurred as it turned from



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