As the director and dramaturge for this production, I have chosen an exert from scene three as an example which include the characters of Sid and Sylvie. This exert was chosen as I believe it presents clear references of the three underlying themes of the play while also staying true to the festivals focus of Australian society. One of these is that the climate of fear and mistrust in contemporary times and the increasing distance, suspicion, doubt and paranoia it can lead to within communities and neighborhoods.
This idea is shown in the scene when Sid asks Sylvie are you going to hurt me? In which Sylvie responds, Why would you think Id hurt you? To which Sid replies, Well why else would you be here! Here Cameron is displaying to us the full embodied sense of distrust among these neighbours and commenting on the state of paranoia that these characters would had to have reached to achieve this.
In contemporary Australian society today the country and even world are a lot more aware of the possible dangers that might be lurking around every corner and that the elderly today believe the world is so much more dangerous nowadays then it might have been ten, twenty or even fifty years ago closer to their generation. But the only reason we even know about these horrible conflicting worse case scenarios is because of the media. The media and technology is advancing and it will never stop. And as we press on into the future more and more information is getting revealed to the public.
So when we hear about any horrific story that happened the other week in this dangerous postmodern world we live in. We have to remind ourselves that maybe it is not the world and its communities that have changed but the resources that are attainable to the public which has made our generation just a little more aware and less ignorant of the possible dangers the world can bring. The theme of the corruption of innocence is also clearly demonstrated in this exert when we hear Sid say to Sylvie Doors are locked, windows shut tight. Curtains drawn on this once friendly picture book neighborhood.
The significance of this line is that although he is not referring to ruby, what he says is in reference to the sudden paranoia and tension that has struck this neighborhood since rubys disappearance and symbolic of the overall innocence that is lost gradually throughout the play. In the beginning it is progressive as originally we feel sympathy for Ray and Sylvie as we find that they have lost their daughter as this the most ghastly, unspeakable, nightmarish thing that could ever happen to anybody, especially a family is to lose ones child.
This idea is reflected in modern Australian society as well and is commenting on they way that communities react to situations like this one that Ray and Sylvie find themselves in and the way in which people conduct themselves and deal with the distress and paranoia that begin to set I afterwards. Later as the play progress we find out that this neighborhood that these people supposedly live in is nothing more than some sick twisted game and the audience is lead to believe that either there was a ruby that was taken form them and this is some kind of sick, twisted charade the two of them play as they cant let go.
Or that maybe there was never any Ruby, maybe these two conflicting main characters are just insane and this is some kind of deranged sexual foreplay that the two surround themselves in. Either way, by the end of the play, all of the original innocence has been sucked from the play and its characters with nothing to replace it but a roaring heap of ambiguity that the audience must dwell on. Also the idea of grief and loss is presented in this exert rather effectively and is also one of the main reasons I have chosen to do this particular scene as dramaturge.
We see this when Sylvie asks Sid if Ruby had come into his house recently to which he replies I leave the door open for her, but she never visits anymore. The purpose of this line is very simple in that it is just trying to get the audience to understand that Ruby is really gone and the effect that this has had on not only her family but also her friends as Sid claims to be earlier in the play. This is in my opinion the overarching theme of the play; the reason for this is that an Australian audience can relate to it.
Although most of the audience may not be able to empathise with the characters about losing a child, almost everyone knows what its like to lose a loved one and how devastating it can be on friends and families. And I think this is really what Cameron was trying to portray about Australian society but also on a more global level with this play. This being the real psychological and physical trauma that events like this can lead to. As Cameron said I was trying to get beyond that fear of losing a child and actually look at that unease, that disease of anxiety, doubt, loss and suppressed terror.
Here Cameron is commenting on the mind set and paranoia that can grip people after events like these occur were perfectly normal people can start having anxiety issues and being overly suspicious and fearful about the most trivial of things that can eventually lead to an unbalanced state of mind. This links back to the plays performed style of gothic and surrealism that makes the audience think about their own lives and further empathise with the characters on stage. As director I have made certain choices in the acting and blocking of this exert that I believe will better enhance the conflict of the scene.
Firstly in the beginning of the scene Sylvie will come to the front door of Sids house and will go to knock on the door when the door creeks open. This will create tension and suspense while also creating doubt in the audiences mind of the possibility of the conflict that could of lead to this door being left unlocked. Then when Sid calls out Is that you? I t should be done in a way that suggests hope because Sid is hoping that his friend Ruby has returned. After when Sylvie walks in and reveals its her we should see the disappointment on Sids face and in his body language (hunched/heavy for instance).
As this suggests a release of tension to the audience and that this was not the person he was hoping it to be and rests in our minds as to who it was that he thought/hoped it was and where are they? Why arent they here? It is shortly after this that Sylvie begins to ask him all of these questions and Sid being the humorous clown he is will imitate what she says in the exact tone that she has just said it in. who said that? ¦who said that? ¦ Please dont copy me¦please dont copy me. This is building conflict as Sylvie begins to be annoyed by this and eventually yells out in frustration Sid Stop it!
It is hear when I will get Sid too surprisingly jump onto the table in front of Sylvie that up until now had been the only thing separating them and say Are you going to hurt me? in a confronting but yet inquisitive manner. This I hope will be the climax of conflict in the scene as Sid continues to egg Sylvie on. But what Id like to achieve is an increasing pace of cues and emotion in voice as the conversation unfolds until it reaches a stand still of quietness after Sid swiftly jumps onto the table and in almost silence whispers (while still projecting) his line of intimidation.
Later on in the scene also Sylvie sees Sids blood stained shirt and asks whos blood is that? She should do this in such a way that her verbal and non-verbal techniques reflects the subtext message that she is wondering whether that could be Rubys blood. This might be done by a questionable/judgmental look on her face while staring at his shirt or any number of facial expressions that express the same emotion along with added hand gestures to reflect emotion. This will cause conflict between the two characters as it is almost as if Sylvie is interrogating Sid.
It is then after this where Sid shouts in frustration I didnt do anything, they just kept hitting! Here this is the first time in the scene that Sid has really moved considerably with rasp emption as he feels that he has to justify himself to Sylvie and everybody. By doing so, this rises the conflict in the scene so much to a point where the audience can feel the tension between the two characters on stage. Because although the audience might not be able to empathise with the exact issues on stage, in contemporary Australian society almost everyone should be able to relate to conflict.
Conflict is something which we all experience and what I hoped to achieve is the message that its how we deal with this conflict that is important and not dwell on the past. The set design and production aspects of the play are also very important to the play, as this is the space that is going to help convey the directors message that the actors portray. As the director I have chosen to stay true to the playwright Matt Camerons original intentions of the set design, as I believe that these choices will have the strongest impact on the audience.
The set I in vision will hold a timeless, placeless world featuring an armchair, standing lamp, rocking horse, gramophone, telephone, answering machine and coat stand. This I believe will give the set a generic/universal appeal to it, implying to the audience that it could be anywhere and potentially from varied time periods in Australian society. The set will be anachronistic in that its furniture will have different ornaments from various time periods.
I have done this to attempt at conveying to the audience this horrific experience that has befallen upon people and Australian society throughout time and that this couple could be stuck and unable to forget and move forward. The set is also surrealistic, dealing with the subconscious memories of Sylvie and Ray. I believe that doing this will have a great impact on the audience in that it forces them to think back and relive the earlier stages of the play and try to piece together each element in hope of better understanding the story and its message.
Bare branches of blackened trees pointing like gnarled fingers through a vivid night sky. The use of a simile and personification here creates a sinister and nightmarish image and really sets the mood nicely for the rest of the play. This is what I would like the imagery of the set too achieve. I will divide the play into its originally intended structure, this commencing with a prologue. Followed by ten short scenes and concluding with an epilogue. In doing so also making the play episodic in that it has a series of short, self-contained scenes, each scene containing its own complication and varying degrees of tension.
This structure of a play will enable it to jump place and shift without changing set. The reason I have done this is that it hints to the audience at the conveyed message that Ray and Sylvie arent really going along the street to visit all these neighbors of theirs but could very well be all staged in their home which is a further insight and impact to the viewer of their ongoing rising levels of insanity. The acting style is a mixture of presentational (actions) and representational (speech) drama. This is essential in clearly outlining the meaning and twist of the play to the audience.
This being that these two main characters are indeed just imitating strangers and it creates a very absurdist and ambiguous mood and has a strange impact on the audience as they are unsure and uncomfortable with the characters, never quite knowing what t believe or not. There are also some surrealistic elements to consider. As it is imperative that the audience knows that they are seeing these neighbors through the eyes/mind of Sylvie and Ray. This is why the audience views the neighbors with such suspicion, confusion, fear and sometimes as grossly exaggerated products of the main characters warped paranoia.
I will also use very generic archetypal characters that represent groups in Australian society as initially intended by Cameron. We know this as in an interview he states, One of my aims was to develop specifically generic characters. The reason that I have does this is so that no matter who is in the audience, every person can relate to and be impacted by at least one character on stage. Also the play will set in an every day ordinary perfectly normal and simple suburban street. I have done this so that the audience gets the impression that this situation can happen to anyone at anytime, even them.
For every person to rethink their lives and daily routines and their general approach and attitude towards certain parts of their lives. Maybe they are too careless, too naive or in effect too trustworthy. But overall the reasoning behind all of these decisions that I have made is to convey to the audience the message and fact that a missing child is such a universal tragedy with a primal impact that arouses such potent emotions in the people that it immediately effects. your welcome.