In the first scene in the play’s exposition, when Billy enters and has a row with his father, I will be helping my actors illustrate the generation gap by doing numerous short exercises. I will put them into groups of 3, and give them a scenario. First I will create a pub scene, and all the actors are to be Billy’s age and are complaining about Billy’s parents’ generation. Then I will change the scenario to at a restaurant, and all of the actors will now be Billy’s parents’ generation, and they will be complaining about Billy’s generation, saying how they answer back and how ungrateful they are etc. Then the scenario will change once more, to a kitchen scene and the actors would become from Florence’s generation, complaining about the way Billy treats his parents and how he answers them back.Order now
These simple exercises will help the actors understand more, about how each generation has gradually changed and the differences between them. This effectively will help them to characterise the generation gap, between Billy and his father more easily. They will have a better understanding of the relationship between Billy and his father. When Billy first enters reading the paper, the actor should saunter into the kitchen and wait a few seconds, looking interested in the paper, before saying the first lines- ‘Cabinet Changes Imminent’. When the actor delivers this line of dialogue they should look up to the audience and put on a posh accent, as if mimicking someone.
When Billy enters the scene and Geoffrey replies to his comment, we should straight away get a feel of the sort of relationship between the 2 characters. The actor playing Geoffrey should get across the hostility between Geoffrey and Billy straight away. In order to do this Geoffrey should be looking down at the table and straight after Billy has finished his lines Geoffrey should come straight in with ‘yes, and you’ll be bloody imminent if you don’t start getting up on a morning’ Almost cutting Billy off. The lines should be short and sharp, to get across the tension. Geoffrey should have an angered expression on his face. The actor should really emphasise the word ‘bloody’
We should immediately recognise the change in Geoffrey when Billy enters the scene. Billy’s life is very boring in Billy’s eyes and in order to make his life more exciting and fun, he creates a fantasy world and he is always acting to himself and imagining things. However Billy also makes up extreme lies to help make his life more interesting. His lies stem from his fantasies, and in order to cover up his lies he tells more and more lies, and they get deeper each time. Billy finds every aspect of his life boring; his job, the people, the town where he lives, and Billy seems to think that he is special, and therefore he fantasises to make his life more exciting.
Billy makes up totally random lies, such as when he told Arthur that his mum lost a leg, and when he told his mum that Arthur’s mum was pregnant. Billy often fantasises about being a soldier, and when he is arguing with his father in the kitchen, Billy fantasises, and turns himself into a soldier, shooting his parents. He also fantasises about being a president or being famous and making speeches.
In Act 3 when Billy lies about the cardigan that he was supposed to give to his mum, from Arthur’s mum, he has to make up more lies to cover up his previous lies. I would help my actors to play that role better, by doing a number of exercises that would help them to feel how Billy would feel, when he has to make up lie after lie on the spot. I will tell them to get into pairs and firstly one of them would be Billy and the other a teacher.
The teacher wants homework form Billy, but Billy hasn’t done it, he makes up an excuse, but the teacher has evidence to prove that he is lying. Billy has to make more lies up to cover the ones he has told. Next, one of them would be Billy and the other person would be Billy’s mum. Billy has got home late from school and makes up a lie, but his mum can prove that it is not true; again, Billy has to make up lies on the spot. Lastly, one of them would be Billy and the other would be Arthur’s mum. She wants to know if Billy’s mum received the cardigan, again Billy lies; Arthur’s mum has spoken to Billy’s mum and knows that she didn’t get it.
These exercises will help the actors to both get to know how it feels to be Billy when he is making up lies and this will help them in their delivery of lines, also this will help them to understand how it feels for the person being lied to. If an actor is playing Arthur or Billy’s mum, then they will get to know how it feels to be on the receiving end of one of Billy’s lies and the frustration of knowing he is lying, whilst at the same time playing along with the lie. The actor playing Billy should be hesitant at first when questioned by his mum or any one, and then answer confidently. In Act2 when Billy is talking to Barbara, he tells numerous lies, for example when he first enters the scene, he says ‘Hey, listen! I’ve just had my fortune told by a gypsy’ when the actor is delivering this line they should run into the scene and say it loud and clear, this line should be said with enthusiasm.
Then he says ‘who? Oh my grandma! Yes she’ll be all right. It’s just that she’s got this rare disease – they’re trying a new drug out on her.’ This is a complete lie and the actor should be walking around the room and then stop, looking a little puzzled, before answering confidently. Billy also tells a lie about his father to try and get out of the conversation, as he is trying to avoid the conversation; he ends up making up more lies to try and get out of it. He says ‘I know. He’s been summonsed twice for using bad language’ when delivering this line I think Billy should be hesitant, and sitting on a chair.
In act two there are many examples of Geoffrey’s aggressiveness and hostility towards Billy. Geoffrey is rude and aggressive towards Billy when ever he gets the opportunity, and he is quite rude about one of Billy’s girlfriends in this act, he says to Billy ; ‘she likes her food, doesn’t she ? She’ll take some keeping. By bloody hell! She had her share of that pork pie, didn’t she?’ this demonstrates how rude and hostile Geoffrey is to Billy and that he takes every opportunity to criticise and humiliate Billy. It also shows that in almost every sentence, Geoffrey manages to get the word ‘bloody’ into it, when addressing Billy. When Geoffrey and Billy are talking, you begin to see a slight bit of warmth between the two, but it only lasts for a few seconds, before Geoffrey returns to his normal antagonistic ways.
I think the playwrights of ‘Billy Liar’ were very successful in getting across the awkward relationship between Billy and Geoffrey. I think they did well in capturing the two completely different personalities and demonstrated the clash of generations clearly. I also like the way the themes were put across, I think it were really clear and easy to grasp. Billy’s fantasies and lies and the seriousness of them, were put across well. It shows that however much Billy tries to change his life, it will always be the same.