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Twentieth Century Drama Assignment based on 'Our Day Out' by Willy Russell.

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Introduction

Sian Rafferty Twentieth Century Drama Assignment based on 'Our Day Out' by Willy Russell. Title: How does Willy Russell use the story of a school trip to raise a number of points about the way society treats individuals? Comment throughout on how Russell creates dramatic impact for the audience. In this assignment I am going to focus on the way that Willy Russell uses the story of a school trip to raise a number of points about the way society treats individuals. Before I do that, I will consider the social and historical background of Willy Russell. Willy Russell's own experience of education and the fact that he gained nothing from it and the inequality of opportunities are reflected in a number of his plays including 'Our Day Out', 'Educating Rita' and 'Blood Brothers'. He left school with no qualifications whatsoever. He worked as a hairdresser for a while and he had a go at several other odd jobs. He also went to night school, gained an education and then trained to be a teacher. Willy Russell finally became a successful writer. Although it is a play about a school trip, Russell also deals with a range of issues including the inequality of opportunity; the failure of schools to develop pupils as in Mrs Kay's class and how difficult it is for individuals to change or break away from the expectations that society has of them. He does this effectively by telling a story rather than lecturing the audience. The play is basically about a low ability class that is taught by a rather pleasant teacher called Mrs Kay. She tries to treat them as individuals instead as stereotyping them as rejects as Mr Briggs does. She knows that they aren't able to upgrade their education because of the people they are, so she treats them to a school trip to Wales for them to experience life outside of inner-city Liverpool. ...read more.

Middle

Here, he shows that he doesn't like to be disobeyed, but Carol is not at all scared of him. Carol points out to Mr Briggs that he hates her and all the other kids like her; 'I know you hate me. I've seen you goin' home in your car, passin' us on the street. And the way y' look at us. You hate all the kids' (Scene thirty five) Briggs is amazed and replies with a question; 'What...makes you think that? Eh? (Scene thirty five) Here Mr Briggs becomes sympathetic. I don't think he has realised that the kids know he hates them; he starts to be kinder and tries to listen to Carol. He gives her advice about schoolwork and puts a smile on her face; 'You're talking as though you've given up on life already.' (Scene thirty five) The stage directions in this scene pay dramatic impact on what's happening. There are pauses to create atmosphere. At the beginning of the scene the stage directions are described in a really good way. If I was the director of this play I would perch Carol on the edge of the stage, looking like she's about to jump. When Mr Briggs is searching, voices can be heard shouting for Carol and Briggs can be hovering centre stage looking for Carol. This is a great scene to make dramatic impact on an audience. There are so many ways that you could stage this scene but the best way to create atmosphere is for Carol to be crouching forward stage looking over the edge. This also creates suspense. At the end of this scene the stage directions say how Mr Briggs has to move forward. 'Again, she moves nearer to the edge and then they look at each other'. This would be staged in a way that Carol would be cowering over the edge but also feeling confident that she's won Mr Briggs over, she has her head raised high. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the bus in scene six, Briggs sees that Linda isn't wearing school uniform; 'What sort of outfit's that for a school visit?' (Scene six) Mr Briggs is not being realistic. It's not even a really big problem but he still makes a fuss about it. Mrs Kay never said anything about it so she might think she's not doing anything wrong. Her attitude towards Mr Briggs makes him angry though and that's why he fails to educate her; 'I don't care. I don't wanna see no crappy castle anyway'. (Scene six) Mr Briggs doesn't like her attitude at all here and he gets in a stress for nothing. Russell has the little scene between Linda and Reilly on the way home because they make a great couple, we can imagine them as decent parents and yet the 'system' writes them off. They think that because Linda and Reilly aren't well educated and have no future that they would be bad parents; Willy Russell adds this scene to try and send a message that they would be alright as a couple and maybe even parents because they are well suited. The audience might like this scene and change their minds about the whole thing. It adds a dramatic impact to the play but also quite emotional and sends a direct message to people and their opinions about children like Linda and Reilly. My opinion is that Russell is right in his opinion that school fails children like Carol, Reilly and Linda because they have no hope for them. I believe that if you give someone a chance they might be able to improve. Society hasn't changed. Everyone should be treated equally, and not everyone always has. There are better opportunities for school leavers nowadays though, no matter what kind of education you have. You can go for further training or even start from scratch. Many people are being considered now. Higher educated people have more of a chance though and are still much better off. This is what Russell is trying to say in this play. ...read more.

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