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Billy Liar: How to play Rita in her first scene

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Introduction

Set Text Essay - Billy Liar 6a) I have been using the Nelson Thornes Dramascripts edition of Billy Liar. I will discuss how I would play Rita in the selected scene. In this particular scene, I think it is important to show how aggravating the character of Rita is to everyone else on stage, and while I want the audience to understand this too, it is also a scene rich in moments with comic potential. For most of the section, Rita is pushy and aggressive; however there are occasional moments when she almost lets her guard down. I wish to explore the subtextual side of Rita's personality including the motives for her wanting the engagement ring from Billy. I view Rita as more complex than she may appear on first impressions, and instead of solely wanting the ring to show off, she may desire the ring to give her a feeling of belonging, to prove to herself and those around her that she can be loved, as in places, she could be seen as a deeply insecure character. At the beginning of the selected section, when Rita first makes her entrance, I want the audience to see how Rita does anything to get what she wants, even if it entails storming into a stranger's house. I would also want the audience to see that she is a formidable character, who will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. ...read more.

Middle

Barbara would say the line "Billy's grandma... ill in bed", at which point Rita first turns to Barbara and, after a sharp flick of her head in Barbara's direction, says "Oooh, look what the cat's brought in...in a rotten iron lung". This would be said in a high pitched voice, to sound like I am imitating Barbara and with a varying intonation to add to the childish connotations of imitating someone. Barbara's line "for your information, I happen to be Billy's fianc´┐Ż" is the one thing during this scene which alters Rita's otherwise constant mocking tone. After her line is said, I would initially begin as I said the previous line, saying the words "Oooh, for your information" in the same condescending tone as before, and the realisation of what Barbara really said would hit me after this part of the line. I would pause after these words, and slightly furrow my brow in a confused manner and purse my lips plaintively. I would slightly stutter on the next part of the line, as if I couldn't believe what I had just heard. Through the rest of the line, my intonation would rise higher and higher, and I would begin to accelerate my speech as Rita loses control and becomes more agitated, at being lied to by Billy, about someone which she would consider less desirable than her. This also reveals that Rita might care more about the engagement than she outwardly shows, and she might really be hurt that she couldn't make her relationship work. ...read more.

Conclusion

As she rudely cuts into Billy's tired explanation, I would hold up my hand in an outstretched stop sign, almost pushing it into his face, to show just how sick of his convoluted excuses she is. After this I would return my hands to my hips and strut downstage while saying "well she can have you... very much doubt" and during these lines, I would have a smug expression on my face. However, this would quickly change to a scowl with a furrowed forehead, as I begin to reel off the list of insults which Rita throws at Billy. These successive slurs would result in me repeatedly prodding Billy on his chest while quickly walking in his direction, almost chasing him. The volume in my voice would increase, and end in me shouting in Billy's face as I would be closer to him by now. This will end the section with Rita being the leader in the argument, and she has had the satisfying last word, which suits her firm and aggressive nature. In conclusion, I hope I have created a picture of Rita being a forthright and belligerent character, full of determination to achieve what she wants with little or no consideration for anybody else in the situation. However, I feel that her frustration and, at times, slight desolation over the fact that she couldn't make her engagement work with Billy, or she was in some way not all that he wanted, was also displayed in some sections. ?? ?? ?? ?? Amy Reddington March 2009 ...read more.

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