The Dramatic Devices in Our Day Out by Willy Russell
Willy Russell, the author of ‘Our Day Out’ was a playwright in
Liverpool writing at a time when there was a high level of
unemployment and a feeling that even with an education there was
little work available.
In the inner city areas there were low levels of literacy, schools
attempted to deal with the disaffected students in special classes.
Willy Russell grew up in Liverpool and worked in various jobs there in
his adult life, so he knew what it was like. He expressed this
culture of negativity in his writing, giving a ‘voice’ to these
people, who he had an affection and understanding for.
The screenplay is about one of these special classes. It is called
the ‘progress class’. Their teacher organises a coach trip for the
children she genuinely cares for in the hope of giving them an
experience beyond their usual day to day life.
Russell also explores another level with another teacher who is on the
trip and has very different views about what a day trip should be.
The text is effective and entertaining because of the devices used and
they are particularly evident in the zoo scene.
The first device Willy Russell uses is in the stage directions at the
start. ‘They point and shriek with horrified delight at the sexual
organs of monkeys’.
Russell uses this as a device to show the children’s immaturity, the
aiming to emphasize the fact that the children have never never been
exposed to this experience before as they have never been outside the
inner cities and this is shown in their reaction. His choice of
language ‘horrified delight’ highlights the fact hat the children are
at first momentarily shocked and/or scared by this but then find it
entertaining, this demonstrates that this is all new and strange to
them so that a small thing like that, which most people would have got
over when much younger is still entertaining to them.
After this Russell moves on to comparing a trapped bear with the
children. ‘…. It was born in captivity so it won’t know any other
sort of life………………… its in them t’kill y’.
Here, Russell uses the imprisoned bear as a device, it is symbolic of
the children’s situation. The children are ‘trapped’ just as the
bear is trapped in its pit. I think this is particularly successful
here because it also reflects the way that when it gets out ‘ its
bound to be made an’ wanna kill people’. Likewise, when the children
‘escape’ from the city centre they cause havoc running about
uncontrollably like wild animals. This also anticipates Carol’s
response to being taken back to the ‘cage’ later.
The subsequent device involves a teacher, Mr. Briggs.
‘Briggs starts to walk away ……….the other teachers let y’link them’.
Russell uses this to suggest a need of physical affection from...