The individual experiences found in Australian society are the fear of the unknown, grief and loss, life in a ‘cul-de-sac’ and identity. Matt Cameron explores these ideas in the play Ruby Moon through the use of cyclical structure, Absurd and Artaud theatre and transformational acting as well as the elements of production to convey the experiences to the audience. The prevailing cultural, historical and political contexts in Australia influenced him to write the play, which is a fusion of non-realism and realism.
From the Australian culture the individual experiences of ‘fear of the unknown’ impacted Matt Cameron. He plays on the idea that there is fear within everyone, from others, themselves and their environment. The play depicts the mistrust amongst the various inhabitants of what is meant to be a community. Stories such as Beaumont Children and Azaria Chamberlain have changed Australians views on how parents should protect their children. We constantly live in fear and thinking the worst of each situation. With the use of light and dark, sound scape, gestures and Artaud theatre the group was able to represent this idea.
The elements of productions used to convey the individual experience of ‘fear of the unknown’ includes blackout. With the use of sound scape; whistling ‘Twinkle Little Star’, slow clapping, saying ‘Baby, where are you’ and breathing creates a sense of eeriness for the audience. Not being able to see what the actors are doing, forces the audience to use their imagination by utilising the noises they hear rather than a visual stimulus. The darkness also symbolises the fear of the unknown.
Artaud theatre is a theatrical technique used to further illustrate the fear of the unknown. This is through the sound scape and the use of gestures. Making a freeze frame with the whole company in a diagonal line, all on different levels, reaching to stage left symbolises a search for answers. This visual enforces the idea that Australians want and need to know the answer to the big ‘unknown truth’.
Another individual experience explored in the play is identity is shaped by Australian society. Matt Cameron plays on the idea that ‘there is no such thing as an identity’ stereotyping. Also that identity evolves over time. The characters in Ruby Moon are stereotypes of various people within our neighborhood. This is shown through spotlighting and vaudeville theatre.
Spotlighting is a technique used to explore identity. The use of the spotlight on Sophia in our group performance focuses the audience’s attention on that her. As the spotlight moves up the body, her physical appearance changes from the ‘perfect child’ to the ‘sexualised beast’. Young adults try to find their own identity when in retrospect they are doing exactly what the society expects them to do. Teenagers are meant to rebel against the restraints that society puts on them to conform to societal expectations. In the play ‘Ruby’ has different identities depending upon her environment and whose she with.
Vaudeville feature such as creating a performance was used in the group to illustrate stereotypes. Australians are quick to judge. In Ruby Moon Sid was innocent but because of his physical appearance of dressing up as a clown and his friendship with Ruby, the reader automatically comes to a conclusion that he is a ‘pervert’ and killed her. Creating a performance leaves the audience open for interpreting what they have just witnessed. My group used this by all taking on a different rule from Ruby Moon and portraying their characters as stereotypes. When I turned around as Sid I was creepy and said ‘Do I scare you Mrs Moon?’ playing the stereotype I saw Sid to be to create that theatrical performance of vaudeville.
Matt Cameron also explores the individual experience, grief and loss in Ruby Moon. An individual’s experience of grief and loss shape persons identity. Those experiences through sympathy and empathy impact relationships with other. This individual experience is shown in our performance by using proxemics and cyclical structure and the other group used transformational acting.
Grief and loss is presented using proxemics and Absurd theatre. This is shown when the group is in a diagonal line and going down the line each person starts to cry hysterically and passing it on by touching the person behind. This shows that for grief and loss there are stages that a person goes through to be able to cope with it. If we had done it in a circle it would suggest that grief and loss is never ending, there is no closure. The repetition of the crying is a direct motif from ‘Waiting for Godo’ an absurd play. In Ruby Moon the characters are in denial as they continually ask the same questions of each other with no resolution of finding Ruby.
Grief and loss is shown through transformational acting and physicality resulting in changing of identity. The other group used this technique when they were trying to bring ‘Ruby’ to life. This individual experience suggests that when people go through grief and loss they aren’t themselves and their identity is changed because of this new emotion overpowering them. Grief and loss overpowers Ray and Sylvie’s judgment in Ruby Moon from the reality and illusions.
Grief and loss is further portrayed through the use of the cyclical structure. Having the same positions at the beginning and end shows that grief and loss is never-ending and there will always be times in life that will remind you of your losses. This is the same cyclical structure as in Ruby Moon when trying to find the answer but will never know because it goes back to the beginning and never resolves.
In conclusion the play Ruby Moon by Matt Cameron was influenced by individual experiences such as fear of the unknown, identity and grief and loss. These individual experiences were conveyed to the audience by utilising various theatrical techniques including vaudeville, Absurd theatre, Spotlighting, sound scape, transformational acting and proxemics.