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The Effectiveness Of Willy Russell's Presentation Of The School Trip In Our Day Out

2966 words - 12 pages

The Effectiveness of Willy Russell's Presentation of the School Trip in Our Day Out

'Our day out' was written as a television play in 1977 but taken
directly from Willy Russell's personal experience of teaching in a
Liverpool comprehensive school in 1974. Not only does Willy Russell's
experience stem from his time in teaching but also from being a pupil
at two Liverpool comprehensive schools, leaving at 15 with no
qualifications. This gives him a good understanding of situations
described in the play from the point of view of both children and
teachers. Liverpool at that time had a large working class population
and a lot of poverty, with huge social problems. Unemployment was
growing and many of the children would have had little hope of a
career and a good future. In those days children without academic
aptitude in secondary education were often regarded as hopeless and
left to sink or swim. Russell fully understood this as it was his own
background.

I believe that the school trip in 'our day out' is realistic because,
not only is the characterisation excellent, both students and teachers
are portrayed honestly and are given a lot of depth for such a short
play, but also the dialogue is naturalistic. In addition, the general
set up for the play is quite believable, the teacher of a remedial
department organising a day trip, then at the last minute a
disciplinarian deputy head joining the party, creating a potential
recipe for disaster. However some of the events within the play are
obviously taken a step further for comic value. This reminds us that
this is a play, and therefore can not ever be completely realistic,
and must be given a certain amount of poetic licence.

There are four teachers present on the outing: Mrs. Kay, Mr. Briggs
and two younger teachers, Colin and Susan. Mrs. Kay is the teacher of
the remedial class - ironically called the "Progress" class. I think
she is an unusual teacher because of her attitudes and beliefs, but
nonetheless believable and her character is consistent. I find it
difficult to judge whether her character is realistic or not when it
comes to her emotional and physical closeness to the students, as
teachers are not allowed to behave in this way now, although they may
have been in the '70s. Also school outings are much more regulated
now.

She is kind, has liberal views towards teaching, wants to broaden the
outlook of the children and give them some fun and is well-liked by
them. As opposed to Mr. Briggs, the authoritarian, she makes an active
effort to break down the barriers between herself and her pupils. This
is demonstrated by her saying:

"I tried to get the kids to call me Helen once. I had a class full of
them chanting it. Two minutes later they were calling me Mrs. Kay
again."

She links arms with Carol and snuggles...

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