Our Day Out – Theatre Essay
The play “Our Day Out” is about a school class from Liverpool that go on a school trip to Wales. They go to a few places along the way like the zoo an old castle and the beach. One of the teachers, Miss Kay, wants all the people on the trip to have fun – this leads to a lot
of disturbance, like the children stealing animals from the zoo and the old castle being overrun with chaos. While on the other hand Mr Briggs is a very strict teacher who wants the trip to be solely educational. Another main character is Carol, who is one of the students on the trip. She plays a big part in the cliff scene. This scene is significant, as it is the turning point in the two teacher’s personalities. You can see how Miss Kay and Mr Briggs react when under pressure and after the cliff scene Mr Briggs changes his attitude from the grouchy man to the good-hearted and amusing teacher that was all along inside of him.
If I was to set the scene I would set it on a frosty and windy day, this would make the impression that something wicked is a about to take place. To make dramatic tension and a scary feeling I want the theatre to be huge and with loads of height. I want the cliff, which is shown in the diagrams, to be hanged from a wall about 15 feet up from the ground so that the height of the cliff will scare anyone standing on it or even the audience. So that none of the actor’s backs are shown to the audience I want the audience to be seated either side of the cliff in increasing rows so that everyone can see. I want the whole of the inside of the theatre to be painted in sky blue and I want painted seagulls dotted around. Because of the height of the cliff and the safety of the actors I want mats all over the floor painted in sea colours. In the corners of the theatre there will be speakers, which will project the sound of waves and seagulls so that the audience feel more like they are near the beach instead of inside a theatre. The audience will feel like they are part of the scene as instead of the side of the cliff been pinned to one wall and the audience been on the other side, it will be sticking out into the audience and the audience will be either side.
To make the more of the dramatic tension I would need both actors to shout most of their lines, like when Carol says “Don’t lie you! I know you hate me. I’ve seen you goin’ home in your car, passin’ us on the streets. And the way y’ look at us. You hate all the kids.” , but more so with Mr Briggs as he is the strict teacher while for Carol I’ll need to have tears in her eyes in the middle of the scene, this would make the audience feel sorry for her. At one moment Mr Briggs is very annoyed by Carol, he says “Now just you listen to me – I’ve had just enough today, just about enough and I’m not putting up with a pile of silliness from the like of you…” This shows that Mr Briggs’s patience has run out. I would like the actor that plays Mr Briggs to play a typical strict teacher, loud, clear, stern, angry look and standing upright and tall to make himself big. At this point Carol steps closer to the edge of the cliff, the audience will start to feel scared. On the quote Willy Russell uses short sentences to the actor speak quickly, this is also effective in building up tension. Right towards the end the atmosphere changes, the quote “Nothing. I promise you”. At this time he is trying to comfort Carol as she as been through a lot. The quote shows a change in Mr Briggs personality, he now seems like a trustworthy man. You can see carol’s feelings towards Mr Briggs, as in the quote “Don’t lie you! I know you hate me. I’ve seen you goin’ home in your car, passin’ us on the streets. And the way y’ look at us. You hate all the kids.” This moment shows that Carol knows that Mr Briggs doesn’t like kids and that Mr Briggs doesn’t have a good attitude towards them. I want to highlight the fact that that Carol doesn’t like Mr Briggs and neither does he like her. When the actor says these lines I want her to have an angry look and speak very clearly with her lines. On the quote Willy Russell uses short sentences to the actor speak quickly, this is also effective in building up tension. To show Mr Briggs feelings I’ve used the quote “Carol. Carol, please come away from there. Please…” At this point Carol smiles and the audience will be relieved that she didn’t jump. This moment shows that although Mr Briggs is a strict teacher who has a bad attitude to kids, he still cares for them and that is also what I want to highlight. This moment would also show his real personality. I want the actor when speaking these lines to hold out his hand to show trust and to also have a soft, gentle voice, which will calm Carol. To show Carol’s personality I have used the quote “Why can’t I just stay out here, eh? Why can’t I live in one of them nice white houses an’ do the garden an’ that?” This shows that she has an accent. It would also show that she like gardening which would also show her personality as a patient, calm girl but on the other hand the scene shows that she can’t wait to grow up and doesn’t seem calm either.
As the school is from Liverpool it’s not surprising that Carol has an accent. I want Carol’s actress to play with a northern accent. Towards the end Carol says “Sir, Sir, y’ know if you’d been my old feller, I woulda been all right all right, wouldn’t I? At this point Carol moves to the very edge of the cliff. The sentence makes you think that it is her end because she talks about what she could have been if something was different and as this is the kind of thing you say towards the end of your life. The audience will be very scared at this point as they think she is going to jump.
When you see that hunters are about to kill Bambi’s mother in the film Bambi you start to feel scared. When they kill her and you start to sob, you start to wonder- why is there a sudden death in such an innocent film? In some respects the play has the same effect of when Carol is about to jump off the cliff, you think that why should anyone die and especially in such an innocent play. When she doesn’t jump you feel relieved that a young and innocent girl that only wanted to have a nice house and do the garden up nicely, didn’t throw her life away. To achieve the same scare that you got in Bambi, I would make sure that the actress playing Carol moves very slowly towards the ends of the cliff and when she walks to the cliff I want the actress to walk backwards to the edge.