The play is set in 1970’s Liverpool; this was when many factories had closed down and the docks were being mechanised, ultimately, this led to poverty. During that time, there were few minorities and therefore racism. There were also many council estates and the pollution levels were high. There was a huge increase in vandalism and prostitution. Any of these factors about Liverpool could have motivated Willy Russell to write the play: this is due to the fact that he was brought up in 1970’s Liverpool; therefore could be reflecting his experiences via the play.
He may be exhibiting how life can be for inner-city kids. Russell created the characters Mr. Briggs and Mrs. Kay with explicit contrast between the two. Mrs. Kay is a “Woolly-headed liberal… ” Whereas Mr. Briggs is more conservative and is a “fool” and the children are working class and “factory fodder. ” The character Mr. Briggs is depicted as a conservative, bossy and disrespectful person, he accuses Mrs. Kay of being “on their side… Willy Russell, the playwright, uses second person pronouns “you” to emphasise who the character is addressing, it is also repeated for even more emphasis; the order in which the pronouns are used could indicate anger which shows the audience the sort of person Mr. Briggs is; it also shows disrespect-this is due to the fact that he could be using sarcasm “aren’t you? ” As he is “(accusing)” Mrs. Kay it gives the audience the impression that Mr. Briggs is antagonistic and in some ways is an’accusing’ person.
Russell’s use of stage and voice directions is frequent for example when Mr. Briggs doubts Mrs. Kay’s attitude towards teaching; “(the castle loom[s] behind him)” Russell symbolises the castle as Mr. Briggs’ ‘backup’ against Mrs. Kay also this shows the audience that the castle behind is like him being the bad person showing Mrs Kay he has more power than her.
Another example of Russell’s use of stage or voice directions is when Mrs. Kay reacts towards Mr. Briggs: as she is “(Beginning to lose her temper ever so slightly. )” This shows that Russell has made Mrs. Kay’s character more patient than Mr. Briggs’ character, as she “(… lose[s] her temper ever so slightly. )” Russell cleverly brings the characters and situations to life by creating the characters with real emotions for instance the stage direction of Mrs. Kay losing her “temper” and in other parts of the play she’s “(laughing)” whilst she indirectly tells Mr. Briggs that the kids are ‘stupid’, Russell deliberately lets us have an open interpretation on the character Mrs. Kay: she has either given up on the kids or she feels sympathetic towards them and wants them to have fun.
He cleverly leaves it so that we interpret it for ourselves rather than telling us whether she has given up on the kids or whether she simply feels sympathy for them and wants them to have fun; this is effective because the audience is given chance to think about it or to interpret the characters for themselves. The character Mrs. Kay is portrayed as a “liberal… ” person and Mr. Briggs thinks her “liberalism… ” doesn’t do “… the kids a scrap of good. ” Her educational philosophy conflicts with Mr. Briggs’ educational philosophy. Although Mrs. Kay shows the children “… love and kindness… She has ‘given up’ on them and classes them as “… factory fodder. ” This shows the audience the bitter side of Mrs. Kay; she can also be assertive, she tells Mr. Briggs to “… listen,” and to “… stop fooling… ” himself.
The audience, initially, feel that she is sympathetic towards the children, as she is like a “… mother hen rather than a teacher… ” This shows that she has sympathy for the children, on the other hand some of the audience may feel she is ‘slack’ or has given up on them and believes that they’ re lacking love for example Andrews (one of the children) is “belted” by his “dad” “because [he] won’t give him… a cigarette. This may also show that they are working-class because Andrews’ dad might not be able to afford his own cigarette which is why he forces his son to supply him with cigarettes; this could show that Andrews’ dad is unemployed.
The playwright has contrasted the two characters like the contrast between night and day. One of the dramatic devices Russell uses is symbolism… Willy Russell draws attention to the bear in the zoo; the audience may feel that the bear is symbolising the children. The children are ill-mannered, they display “… wo fingered gestures. ” To the shopkeepers, this could be because they have been poorly-parented, likewise the bear in the zoo may have been poorly parented which is why it is in a zoo.
This means, to some audiences, that the children are from working class backgrounds-the reason why they are in such situations could be because of the factory closures. Russell could be using this symbolic reference to highlight that the children are both a product of and trapped by their social and geographic environment for example when Mrs. Kay tells Mr. Briggs that “There’s nothing for [the children] to do… ” and “… most of them were born for factory fodder, but the factories have closed down. ”
Russell wants us to believe that the children are controlled by their environment for instance as the factories have closed the children have “… nothing… to do,” which shows us that they are likely to be unemployed which makes them part of the cause of the high unemployment rates of the era. Mrs. Kay believes that the children should have fun instead of being educated, as they have “… plenty of time. to go and visit “the zoo” even though they’re on an educational visit.
This causes conflict between the two teachers and forms the basis of dramatic tension in the play as the audience are left to interpret the characters in many different ways therefore cannot predict what, exactly, is going to happen later on in the play. Some of the audience may feel that there is going to be a major physical or verbal conflict involving the two teachers; whereas others may feel that the two teachers are going to ‘make up’ and settle it with peace. Mr. Briggs can be classified as a stubborn, self-centered or strict person; although he does show some sort of concern towards educating the children.
We, as the audience, are also shown a less-disrespectful or ‘nicer’ side of Mr. Briggs, as he “… wraps his arms around… ” Carol-he practically saves her life when she is about to fall off the cliff, he “… grabs out quickly and manages to pull her to him. ” To some audiences this can be classed as self-preservative however it may also show the ‘loving’ side of Mr. Briggs. The play may be portraying the working-class background of Russell.
Our Day Out by Willy Russell
- Length: 3325 words (9.5 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Our Day Out by Willy Russell
The play "Our Day Out" in based around the remedial class of an inner
city Liverpool comprehensive. The children are the bottoms of the
heap; they are not blessed with a well off families to support them.
The two main teachers are Mrs Kay and Mr Briggs who views contrast and
contradict each other throughout the play. On this particular day the
"remedial class" are of on a school trip hence the title "Our Day Out"
to Conway castle in Wales though this is not the only place the
children get to see, the play takes us to a variety of different
places (due to the fact that it was written for television broadcast).
Russell primary idea may seem just to produce a play that is
entertaining and suitable for a television broadcast. Though Russell
provides with slice of life realism. I t could have a certain
biographical side to it for Russell grew up in a similar area in
Liverpool. Although at some points in the play the way Russell writes
may seem biased trying to perform our opinions but he actually writes
from different viewpoints providing us with an actual insight into the
Russell major themes throughout the play are poverty, the lack of
education and opportunity available; the social and cultural
depravation suffered from living in such an inner-city area. It
questions the ethics of bad parenting.
The scenes I have choossen to anylais have great dramic importance to
the play they are Kay.
It focuses on a major aspect of the play: the depravation of the
children. It proves again to us the yearning of Carol and the
attitudes of both teachers. It provides a valuable insight into the
Mrs Kay firstly asks Carol why she does not and go and look round the
castle. To this Carol relies
"Miss, I don't like it. It's horrible."
At first you might think that she is referring to the castle building
although later on in the scene she refers to the castle been a "nice"
place. We already know that Carol is not an intellectual girl; she is
still unable to read and write at the age of 13.Proving her lack of
educational ability is the fact that she mistakes a lake for the see.
Even though she is lacking in educational ability she is still aware
of her surroundings in Wales and then back at home she is also aware
of the differences between them. Though she is unable to express
herself due to her low vocabulary and grammar skills. So when she uses
the term "It's horrible" she is actually referring to the fact it's
How to Cite this Page
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horrible because she can never have anything that nice back at home.
She is resenting the fact that she can never have something as nice as
that. For we know she knows that's he can never have anything nice she
ever says why "cos we'd just smash it up"
We have already scene Mrs Kay been the mother figure for the children
because they are unloved and un nurtures at home by their own mother,
rather than an actual teacher this is again reinstated when Mrs Kay
calls Andrews by his forename like his mum would do.
Russell gives us the reader two different viewpoints Carols' and
Andrews' though neither one is the correct one.
Russell is basically asking the audience "What should the council do?
Should they give the children something? Or are they right in not
giving them something?" Although these questions are cleverly embedded
into the text so the audience can still find the play entertaining and
that the questions don't over power the reader and distract from the
play itself. Like previously in the zoo we know the kids have never
had anything much of their own as belongings or even really to love so
that when they decided to take the animals and here again Andrews says
if something was his he would defend it. So maybe the children could
look after things if they were their own. For we know they don't
respect the councils things for example at the starts of the play
there is a reference to the tree's been chopped down an the area is
not well looked after. This section of the scene is then interrupted
but the thought provoking question still stays in your head.
Briggs now comes along. The example of bullying on the bus by Rielly
and Digga to the younger kids is now mirrored in Mr Briggs behaviour
to Carol and Andrews. Where as Mrs Kay and the children is more one
level term to the children as an equal. Mr Briggs is commanding them.
He shows no respect to them not even using their names they are only
referred to as "You two" or "girl".
Mr Briggs is describes this day as an "ill-organised affair" The word
affair is often more widely used to describe some kind off business, a
concern or a love affair. If one of the kids used this word it would
be because of there poor language and that they have used this word
because don't fully understand its meaning. Though Mr Briggs is
educated and he knows the meaning of this word. It is his option of
this day, which can be summed up as Mr Briggs having a negative
opinion. This view differs Mrs Kay who describes this day as a trip
meaning a voyage, a journey or an excursion. Which Is more of a
Mr Briggs describes the day as a shambles though this again is only
his option he is seeing it as a shambles, Mrs Kay is not blind to what
the children are doing she just see the matter in a different light.
Again Mr Briggs is thinking of the school as a respectable
organisation asking what must the castle authorities think. He also is
referring to the kids as animals again.
Mrs Kay comes out with a placid answer unlike Mr Briggs how is angrily
The castle is described but Mrs Kay to be "a crumbling pile of brick
and mortar" but Mrs Kay then describes it from the children's view as
a "field of heaven". Heaven is often classified as the best place in
the world, the place everyone really dreams of going to. So therefore
in the children's opinion this is really good place the best because
they come from a really deprived background. Russell is again bringing
up the whole fact that they are deprived. He is also making you
genuinely feel sorry for these kids.
Mr Briggs is seeing the children on an opposing side to him, the side
of the teachers. When really it shouldn't be about sides. Mrs Kay
herself says she is on the same side as the pupils. But here again we
have the contrasting views of Mrs Kay and Mr Briggs like an ongoing
Mr Briggs is classifying this whole trip as chaos and asks Mrs Kay how
she is going to stop it. But Mrs Kay does not see it as chaos so she
has nothing to stop.
Mr Briggs regards Mrs Kay attitude to be a fine one for the teaching
profession, but is he necessarily right because Mrs Kay methods and
views of teaching vary from Mr Briggs. And equally Mr Briggs attitude
could be a fine one for the teaching profession. Russell again is
asking the audience who is right out of Mr Briggs and Mrs Kay but
Russell himself doesn't pick a right one out for us.
Russell again starts to ask us the audience another question again
giving us two defendant viewpoints. This time Russell is really trying
to get us to decide which option is correct Mrs Kay or Mr Briggs is it
chaos or not? Is Mrs Kay right in the fact there they are never going
to solve the problem, that they are rejects, and is she right in
saying that they are rejects? Is Mr. Briggs believes that the point of
a school trip is to learn and benefit from the knowledge that you see
around you. When he is arguing with Mrs. Kay in the cliff, she says to
him, "There's no point pretending that a day out to Wales is going to
be of some great education benefit." When they arrive in Wales, Mr.
Briggs begins to bore the children with a lecture about Conway Castle,
"Now, those large square holesâ€¦that's where the archers would fire
from if the castle was under attack." This speech that he performs is
probably the most pointless thing he will ever say but again Russell
is trying to get the audience o see what they think about that.
"No you listen Mr Briggs!! Teach them? Teach them what? Nobody want
them Educating." Here is where Mrs Kay really loses her temper with Mr
Briggs. But is Mrs Kay right does nobody want them educating. Russell
does not give us a different answer but is letting the audience make
up their own minds. The basis of this conversation is what could be
called one of the foundation block of this play because all the way
though previous scenes we see Mrs Kay is not the kind of teacher that
would teach us for example but someone who is just concerned about
loving and mothering them and most importantly trying to make life as
enjoyable as possible rather than educating them. Because Mrs Kay
knows that they have no real future and that it is all planned out in
front of them. But Russell is questioning whether it is because of
their education ability that is stopping them or is it society that
won't let them get anywhere. Because we know that Carol has this
deepest despair to move up in life but can she? And if she can't what
the reason why?
Also we are aware that Mrs Kay knows that they are not going to get
anywhere. We also know this due to other incidents like her and Carol
on the coach talking about whether Carol could live in a "nice" house.
Mr Briggs then in turn does not know what to say to this comment and
replies with something that is not he option of what she says but only
referring to it as "stuff". As he wants to run the trip his way. Mr
Briggs seems like he is never going to change his views about the trip
and when at the beach doesn't want anything to do with either Mrs Kay
or the children as he sits on a rock away from the group. It isn't Mr
Briggs attitude about the trip it is his general attitude with the
children, which Mrs Kay Doesn't like. Russell makes this attitude
apparent right from the start with, Mr Briggs language towards the
children, "You have some real bright sparks here Mrs Kay, a right
Mr Briggs in his next speech is referring to the headmaster again he
has used this before in previous situation always coming back with "oh
but the headmaster sent ME" Perhaps thinking that, that will create
some more respect from Mrs Kay to himself but it is unsuccessful,
Because then immediately after Mrs Kay plans another excursion to the
beach leaving Mr Briggs in ore staring at a walking away from him Mrs
Kay. This shows Mrs Kay has slightly more power over Mr Briggs even
though he is meant to be the one with power over the whole trip.
So that is how the scene ends Russell has cleverly written two major
points of discussion and thought into the play. The 2 even though they
differ in many ways also share similarities and are on a parallel
they're both about the kids. The 1st conversation is rather
educational for the kids the second talking about the kids and how
they are not goon to get anywhere.
I have chosen to do scenes 35 because of its importance to the play.
It is the climax of Carol's feelings of despair and longing for
something better. It also shows the temporary changing in character of
Mr Briggs. Its the middle of the play the 1st Â½ is of the strict
authoritarian Mr Briggs and then after this scene we see Mr Briggs
letting his hair down losing his authorisation attitude.
The scene starts with a stern shouted command "Carol Chandler" the
voice is one of authority and belongs to Mr Briggs. The scene ends
with a close held hug between Carol and Mr Briggs resembling the hug a
farther rather would give his daughter.
This scene consists of only Mr Briggs and Carol. Carol is on the verge
of jumping of the cliff. Mr Briggs at the start of the scene seems to
think his strong bullying tactics will work on Carol but he soon
realizes they won't. The strong authority he holds normally at school
is totally diminished. . Carol seems to be in a dream world confused
somewhat ignoring Mr Briggs dismissing him The language used at the
start by Mr Briggs is one of commands only; she is called by her full
name. Obviously Carol's attitude surprises him he stumbles on his
sentences. As in previous scenes he is the one with authority he is
the one controlling what is said in the conversation with Reilly:
Briggs: Reilly. Dickson. Sit Down
Reilly: Sir, we was only
Reilly is the one lost for word and unsure what to say.
But in this scene the tables have turned Mr Briggs is the one who
doesn't no what to say Carol is now the one interrupting Mr Briggs. In
the later end of the scene she calls him "Briggsy" an informal
nickname use by the children. She confronts him on matters that the
other children only whisper about she is blunt and straight to the
point. She is not blind to the way he behaves to them.
In the first sentences you can see his anger towards Carol, he
obviously think of what the school will look like if she jumps,
because to start with she is just some statistic a number.
When he is informed that she is lost he is more concerned of punishing
the teachers rather that finding her.
While on the cliff Mr Briggs still things that it is a bit of a joke
he comments on her been "silly" and to stop her "silliness" Its only
later he realises she is not joking around. In the later end of the
scene he tries to persuade he not to jump, he becomes onto a level
terms with her. Giving her reasons why not to jump. Giving her
something good to look forward to even though it might not be true.
This situation isn't a text book one some one out of the "teaching
profession" has been in before its new to Mr Briggs he doesn't quite
no how to take it his normal ways of getting a child to do what he
says are no longer working with Carol.
Carol herself is unsure what she is doing she is pausing on her
speech" I've told you."
There is a large amount of tension between them both.
The scenes I choose to do comprised of two major conversations they
were primary examples of Russell writing technique and his main themes
of the play. The scenes show similarities: both start with a
commanding Mr Briggs with him as the figure of authority but then both
need with him been almost overpowered. We see scenes of conflict
occurring in both. Mr Briggs is the teacher who is stuck for word as
well as been in a situation that he has not been in before this is
obvious due to his language and constant stumbling on words "Look".
Carol also shows and explanation to her longing in knowing "That's why
we never have nothing' nice" and then her longing had turned into
suicidal despair. The scenes have great dramatic importance they are
what I personally think the two most entertaining and gripping scenes.
As well as been highly engaging for the viewer they shed some light
onto the play and help with the understanding of it.
If I was the director directing these two scenes I would: Firstly in
At the start where there is just Carol, Andrews and Mrs Kay the
audience need to see closeness between them. Needs to be evident so
the audience can see a different bond that a normal teacher has with
her children. In the next section when Mr Briggs arrives the camera
needs to see him approaching on the horizon with the 3 oblivious to
him at first. The angle of the camera needs to be one so that Mr
Briggs looks the largest out of them all. Then when it his just him
and Mrs Kay to start with he need to be the one who seems to be
controlling the situation so to the front of the screen maybe in
position to look larger than Mrs Kay and Mrs Kay to look somewhat not
bothered that he is there, and to show shoots of the scenery when she
is talking. Mr Briggs voice needs to be louder at first. Then later in
a role reversal Mrs Kay need to be more dominant louder and larger on
the screen. At the close of the scene the camera need to be on her, as
she exits so she looks to be more powerful.
Then in scene 35 Carol needs to start of small the cliff almost over
powering her. To start with the camera should be behind Mr Briggs. It
should be quiet with only the sound of a few seagulls and the
occasional shout of a child. Mr Briggs can echo and be very load in
comparison to the background noise. To start the distance between them
should be large and decrease over the scene. There should be an
awkward stiffness between them, with long pauses between lines. Also
the camera must home in on the point that Carol keeps trying to edge
away from Mr Briggs. Throughout this section of the scene the drop
beyond the cliff must be apparent the camera must keep flashing
between Carol, the drop and Mr Briggs. The danger of the situation
must be made aware to the audience. When Carol says her line" Where
it's nice" after she finishes the camera should switch position to
behind Carol and also the audience must be able to see that Carol is
looking out toward a "prettier" place unlike her home.
At the point where Carol is very near the edge till the not where he
hugs her should be dragged out almost in slow-motion. After the point
where Carol smiles no more pictures of the drop should be shown just
the closeness of Mr Briggs and Carol should be apparent. The shot of
them at the end should be shown to look very interment and should be
held fort as long as possible before the scenes change.
After analysing the two scenes I have concluded that Russell
intentions are to open the eyes of his audience most of whom will
never of been in or even seen situation like the ones he wrote about.
His techniques are very clever because he can still inform us and make
us think twice about certain children and the hardships they suffer
throughout the play though still entertain us. He can provide a slice
of life drama without turning it into a fully biographic play. He can
cleverly mix a comedy play with a tragedy one and it can still work.
The audience can fit into the shoes of the characters his language and
description captures the very essence of inner-Liverpool. Though still
leave room for us to imagine asking questions discreetly without over
powering us with thoughts.