Drama Assignment: Our Day Out by Willy Russell

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Drama Assignment: Our Day Out by Willy Russell

Scene 35 is the climax of the play, “Our Day Out”. How does Willy Russell create dramatic tension in this scene? Consider characters, actions, use of situation, the social message of the play and how an audience might create today?

        Our Day Out is a play written by the playwright Willy Russell in 1977,which was set in Liverpool and of which was originally for a televised drama. Willy Russell’s  popular television play is a witty, fast-moving drama piece. The outline of the plot is that the ‘progress class’ is on a trip to Wales where liberal Mrs Kay and strict Mr Briggs have completely different ideas about how the day should be organised. Our Day Out follows a school trip from an inner-city school to the zoo and the seaside, and from this the plot of the drama deepens and develops into a highly enjoyable and educational experience for the reader. Many of Russell’s plays are based around some of his own personal experiences, and this history is very true of Our Day Out as its roots are firmly planted in Russell’s experiences at Shorefields Comprehensive School where he taught from 1973-4. It was in that year were Russell accompanied the teacher of the remedial department on a trip she ran to Conway castle and zoo for the children. At the last minute, a strict deputy head teacher also joined the party, creating a recipe for disaster.  However during the day the head relaxed and enjoyed himself only to revert his usual self at the end of the day, so in doing so he destroyed all the  positive achievements of the day. Clearly, all the basics of the plays plot were very similar to that day out. In Russell’s writing , he tended to take ordinary Liverpool people as its characters and usually showed that he could use his own experiences in his writing. In many of Russell’s plays, he used Liverpool humour and characters to communicate his more serious content to his audience.

        There are three key characters who add to the growing tension for the climax of the play. They are Mrs Kay who is the teacher to the progress class, Mr Briggs, the deputy Headteacher and Carol Chandler, who is a student from the progress class.

        Mrs Kay is the leader of the day out, her main concern throughout the play is that the children should have an enjoyable day and to that end she is prepared to allow them to behave as they wish as long as they consider other people. Mrs Kay is immediately seen very popular with all the kids, this is shown as all the kids gather around her. She is very aware of the children’s attitudes and tricks, which is why she send a student for a note to ask permission to come on the trip, in case the student was lying as well as trying to fool her. To others see is seen in a very different light, the Headteacher feels she  ‘sees education as one long game’ and Mr Briggs describes her a ‘mother hen rather than a teacher.’

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        Mr Briggs is sent last minute by the head to join the trip. He is the opposite to Mrs Kay, he is more concerned that the trip he had no part organising, be a educational experience for the pupils and is applaud by Mrs Kay’s attitude and her handling of the pupils, this is shown as Briggs is seen looking with disgust on the class and Mrs Kay. The aspects that create the most tension is that of the clashes between the two characters in which each makes it clear what they think of the other and their values. This ...

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