This technique allows you to really think about the character of Geoffrey and try to get into his mind. It helps you to understand what he is thinking and why he is the way he is. All of the strategies in this section really help to identify the problems within Geoffrey and Billy’s relationship. Geoffrey obviously has very strong family values and cares about his family, proven by the fact that he became so angry when Billy snapped at his Grandma; he does care for Billy but his caring side just gets masked by his personality and very short temper.Order now
The generation gap I also think plays a major part in their relationship problems. Geoffrey was brought up very differently to Billy, he was lower/middle class and has his own business that he worked hard for, he thinks Billy’s education is a waste of time and finds it hard to understand all this academic learning as he was brought up at a time when it was much more respected to go out and do ‘proper men’s work’, manual labour. However things were starting to change and it was starting to become more respectable to work in an office and do less hands on work, something Geoff couldn’t get to grips with as it is just not part of his culture so he doesn’t value it. This is why Billy and Geoffrey clash as they don’t really understand each other and one another’s ambitions. Also Geoffrey seems to kind of think Billy has had an easy ride in a way and could even be very slightly jealous of him.
Geoffrey’s upbringing and the difference in generation between them causes them rarely to see eye to eye as does Geoffrey’s strong family values. Geoffrey’s fiery personality and inability to express himself also plays a part in their relationship difficulties. I also think that they are very different people that have clashing personalities. All these things cause problems in their relationship.
When Billy announces that he is leaving for London that night, Alice and Geoffrey react very differently. Alice doesn’t really want to believe it and reacts in a very motherly manner and worries about the practicalities for instance, the washing and cooking. She doesn’t think he will survive on his own. She thinks he needs her and she probably quite wants to feel needed; she has just lost her mother and now is going to loose her son as well and is probably feeling very vulnerable and upset.
Billy and Geoffrey’s relationship is considerably worse towards the end of the play and Geoffrey is back to his old self. Geoffrey acts like he doesn’t care but he does seem to want him to stay and uses the excuse that he has to pay back the money as a reason for him to stay as he doesn’t know how to tell him how he feels. Once again however, his temper gets the better of him and he ends up telling him to go as he has had enough of him. Billy doesn’t want to leave on bad terms and does try to rectify things with his father.
There is a point near the end of the play where Billy has two fairly long speeches that really help you to understand both, Billy, Geoffrey and their relationship when Billy talks about his education and how he never received praise or support and just had to be grateful for everything. It is here that the generation gap is very apparent again and difference in upbringing. It is due to these things that they misunderstand each other and have very different values.
Internal monologue – for this explorative strategy we performed a short monologue for both Alice and Geoffrey summing up how they felt about Billy moving to London. In Alice’s monologue she talked about how worried she was about Billy and how much she was going to miss him. Geoffrey is also sad that he went and regrets telling him to go but doesn’t know how to rectify the mistake. In a way though, Geoff feels a kind of respect for Billy as he actually followed something through and told the truth and thinks that the experience could make him more mature. Neither of them entirely believed that it was true until they read the letter and the reality sunk in.
This strategy helped to understand how Alice and Geoffrey truly felt about Billy at the end of the play when he has finally done something with himself. From my study of the play I can say that the relationships within the play are complex, particularly Geoff and Billy’s however there is no doubt that there is love, respect and strong morals present in all relationships even if they are not always shown. In this section we were required to direct and rehearse a short section of the text in order to understand the process of staging a play. We focused on how the writers use the elements of drama to convey meaning and how actors use the medium of drama to interpret a text for performance.
Period and cultural background Billy Liar is set in the 1950’s. A time when there were strict unwritten society rules, set family roles and a family orientated lifestyle. Although the time period is not directly mentioned throughout the play, we are provided with various clues of the period and culture conveyed through the dialogue, events and set. For example we are provided with great insight into the play purely from the set which is described in detail at the beginning of act one; ‘…furnished with an uncut moquette three piece suite and a dining room suite in dark oak’. This description is very typical of a 1950’s lower/middle class home, popular interior design of the time.
A ‘cheap and flashy cocktail cabinet’ is also very 1950’s and also tells us a little about the family as a cocktail cabinet is something a family would have bought to show off and impress others; therefore the Fisher family clearly care what society things of them. ‘The usual collection of family photographs on the mantelpiece’ again is typical of a 1950’s family and shows the how the Fishers rate family as of high importance. The fact that Alice’s mother, Florence lives with them , that they all eat breakfast together and the family roles (Alice being a stereotypical housewife and Geoffrey being the hard working money earner), all also indicate their 1950’s lifestyle.
They are a very traditional family and their lower/middle social status is reflected mainly in Geoffrey with his strong values and working class upbringing meaning he worked very hard to create his own business and he values an academic education like Billy’s very little.
The section of the play my group developed was from page five to page nine, during these pages it is late morning and the family are in the middle of breakfast; Billy has only just got out of bed (much to the disapproval and annoyance of his parents especially Alice who has just been struggling to get him up for some time before hand) and come downstairs to join the family; Geoffrey who is seated at the kitchen table doing paperwork, Florence who is slightly more away from things sitting on the couch and Alice who is busy doing chores and preparing breakfast.
Obviously this section of the text being the first scene in the play and so near to the beginning means that it was very important to perform it just right. The first scene in a play is all about introducing the characters and setting the scene so we had to think very carefully about how we wanted our characters to come across to the audience and exactly what we wanted to convey to them. It is the first impression for the audience and it will stick in their mind so it had to be put across with care. It had to have an impact on the audience, engage them and give them just enough information about the characters and their relationships to keep them interested but also not give away everything so that there is nothing to be conveyed throughout the rest of the play and no depth to the plot. Information has to be released steadily.
It was also important that we conveyed the right atmosphere to the audience. The mood in this particular scene is very familiar and it was important that this was conveyed through the performance. Although things are a bit chaotic there is also the impression that every morning the same thing happens and everyone does the same thing. They appear to know each other and their routines very well for instance they talk about Billy and his late nights and getting up late as though it is a regular occurrence and they all are so used to Florence’s mumblings that they generally just ignore her and she just becomes background noise.
We get the feeling that Geoffrey always does his paperwork at breakfast, Alice is always busy trying to keep things in order and Billy always strolls into breakfast as if he has all the time in the world. They all have their own agenda but still kept up the conversation showing their familiarity with the situation. All in all we get a strong typical family feel from this scene and it was important that all this was conveyed to the audience.
As well as conveying the characters and the mood it was also important to give the audience some insight into relationships within the family. For example, Geoffrey and Alice would have been married for a long time and would be very familiar with each other, they would have quite a strong relationship and be quite united in their views, that had to come across to the audience by using eye contact between them and exchanges of looks conveying the fact that they knew what one another was thinking. Most of these looks were exchanged of course over Billy whose relationship with his parents to an extend seems to be fairly typical of a teenager and their mother and father in that you expect an amount of nagging but there is also an air of familiar disappointment and disapproval towards Billy.
His parents give the feeling that Billy never does anything right and they expect the worst of him; they express little support or faith in Billy. We can tell all this from various things said about his actions for example, “And what time did you get in last night? If it was last night. This bloody morning more like” and “He knocks about with too many lasses. He out with a different one every night”, which shows their disapproval and lack of faith in him. All these things had to come across in the performance through body language, movement, facial expressions, gestures and tone and pattern of speech in order to introduce the characters in the right way.