For the response phase we worked on three sections of the play to discover and understand the family relationships in particular the development and changes of Geoff and Billy’s complex relationship. We looked at firstly at the opening scene, then at act two and finally act three, the end of the play. In the response phase we used various explorative strategies in order to widen our understanding of the play and help us analyse themes and relationships in greater depth.
1. The opening scene. Role play – A typical family are seated around the breakfast table; a mum, dad, grandparent and two teenagers. Each has their own agenda and are focused on talking about their own topic, not really noticing or listening to each other. Our role play demonstrated something that all the audience, to an extent, should be able to relate to: the basic set up of a stereotypical family; the moody teenagers; staying out late, always after money, arguing and rebelling against parents, school and work. The elderly grandparent; constantly mumbling endless and boring stories about ‘back in their day’. The father; the man of the house, the money earner, providing for the family. Finally we have the mother; the housewife, constantly fussing, cooking and cleaning and doing all the household chores with no help and no thanks.Order now
Performing the role play; each character was so wound up in themselves and their personal thoughts that they were very much talking at each other or at times to themselves rather than to each other, conveying an obvious lack of communication, confusion, frustration and a tense atmosphere. None of the characters payed a great deal of attention to each other; the overlapping speech and unrelated dialogue helped to convey the frustration and tense atmosphere. This role play was used really to get the mood across to the audience and provide some insight to each character rather than the meaning of the conversation or develop a plot.
As well as demonstrating a still very stereotypical family, the role play does contain circumstances that point towards a slightly old fashioned family. Firstly, the fact that the family all had breakfast together is maybe not such a widely done thing nowadays due to busy schedules and varying work hours. The roles of the mother and father also indicate a old fashioned family set up, the father out working while the mother stays home and cooks and cleans, although often still present today, things are beginning to change and you get a lot of working mothers nowadays. Another factor is the grandparent living with them which also is not so common in modern society.
The role play demonstrated the changes and development of society of the typical family but also highlighted the differences, for instance the moody teenagers who will always be moody teenagers. A lot of the focus in the role play was centred around the teenager similarly to Billy in the play. Of course, this role play mirrors the opening scene of Billy Liar and was done as a preliminary exercise to introduce us to the play. The technique helped us to understand the atmosphere of the scene, as well as the roles and set up of a typical 1950’s family and how it is different from today. It also gave us a platform to start exploring the characters.
Still Imaging – following on from the role play, we created still images to show the frustrations of the family members when no-one was listening to each other. We arranged each character so that their positioning, body language and facial expression reflected or provided insight into their feelings and the overall arrangement conveyed the atmosphere of the scene. For instance the teenagers were facing outward from the table showing division, they were slumped in their chairs, and had a lazy, bored and moody expression; they also had their arms folded, building barriers between themselves and their parents and showing how they really didn’t want to be there.
The parents were much more forward and focused on the teenagers as though interrogating them, they generally presented quite a united front although it was the mother that seemed to be the more dominant one whereas the father seemed less keen to get involved. They both looked angry and frustrated at the teenagers who clearly looked exasperated and uninterested conveying a feeling that it was a regular occurrence and that they were just ‘nagging again’.
The grandparent had a less dominant part in the still image and looked a lot less involved in the conversation and more in their own world talking to themselves, quite unaffected by the tension. This strategy provides us with some insight into the relationship between the parents and children; you can tell that the relationship is not great and they are arguing which by the exasperated expressions happens a lot. This of course is much like Billy’s relationship with his parents in the play; he feels like they constantly nag him. The still image also sort of shows the status of the family members and the difference in generation, the older generation, especially the parents, have the power demonstrated by their body language and the discipline they seem to be inflicting in the still image. The teenagers are at the bottom of the hierarchy.