The fact that the family are all still seated at the breakfast table however does show some family respect and strong family values in that the teenagers haven’t just walked away from the situation. This point also provides us with insight into a family of the 1950’s and the family values and levels of respect they had for each other. Thought tracking – using the same still image, each character spoke out loud their thoughts and feelings at that particular moment.
This strategy is very helpful because you can really start to delve into each characters feelings and begin to understand them and their relationships. The teenager spoke about how they are always being nagged at over the same old things, wishing they would leave them alone, how they don’t understand. The mother spoke about how the children were so lazy, should help her more round the house, has told them time and time again to do things, and feels underappreciated.
The fathers agreed with the mother and talked about how the teenagers should work harder and stop going out so late. The grandparent was just saying how things were different in their day and kind of giving a running commentary. This exercise told us the same sort of thing as the still imaging but in greater detail. It again highlighted the difficulties in the relationship between the parents and teenagers; the constant nagging about the same old things, work, school, laziness, late nights and not helping around the house; common arguments that occur in most family environments, nowadays and in the 1950’s, arguments similar to the ones Billy has with his parents. Again it also shows the traditional family set up.
Role play – This role play focused on the first fifteen pages of Billy Liar. For this role play the dad was focused on doing his paperwork whilst the mum was preparing breakfast and trying to get the teenager out of bed. The grandparent provided the background noise with a running commentary of events and occasional bits of advice providing an element of humour. When the teenager got out of bed they were interrogated and lectured about their whereabouts last night, just as Billy is in the play. The teenager is defensive and tries to avoid the questions just like Billy does. The father in the role play is very stern about the late nights and numerous love interests and is clearly unimpressed by their irresponsible and immature attitude and thinks he is a bit of a waste of space. Just as Billy’s Dad seems to think in this part of the play.
The mother however is more concerned about the practicalities like washing, etc. and is very motherly in that sense, similar to Billy’s Mum, she also seems exasperated by Billy’s poor attitude but not as much as Geoffrey who seems to find it very hard to understand Billy’s attitude probably due to his own upbringing. The teenager is called lazy a number of times just like in the play and this seems to prompt him to prove himself as this is when he chooses to announce that he has a job and is leaving.
The parents are shocked and suspicious as are Billy’s parents. They ask a lot of questions and Billy’s Dad in particular is particularly untrusting and doesn’t really believe him knowing what Billy is like. This tells us more about Billy’s relationship with his father, Geoffrey has little faith in his son and shows him no support, or praise, there is clearly little trust in their relationship and Geoff seems to think very lowly of Billy. He doesn’t believe that anyone would give him a job. Also Geoff is probably very aware of Billy’s tendency to lie giving him reason to doubt him. Billy’s mother also is slightly suspicious but again reacts in a motherly manner and worries about the practicalities.
Hot seating – In this technique three performers took on a role of one of Billy’s family members and were questioned by the other members in the group. This strategy was used to better our understanding of the individual relationships Billy has with each family member. It provided different views of Billy from each family member who all seem to see him in a different light.
Both Billy’s parents and his grandmother think that Billy is lazy and immature, Geoffrey is the most critical of Billy and thinks that he is a liar and always messes up. He thinks that he needs to grow up and get his act together.
Billy’s grandmother thinks that Billy is in need of stricter discipline as she reflects on her own upbringing. Alice is the softest on Billy and the least critical she thinks Billy is a good boy really and that he just needs to settle down a bit and act more responsibly. Overall Billy seems to get little encouragement, praise or support from his family. This is what maybe drove Billy to start lying in the first place. The criticism, mainly coming from his Dad maybe has made him feel insecure and therefore feel the need to lie to try and impress them. If Geoffrey maybe showed a bit more understanding and support then Billy would maybe stop lying and would have more success in what he does.
2. Act Two. Marking the moment – For this explorative strategy we picked out certain points in act two that we thought showed the levels of closeness Geoffrey and Billy have. Graph to show how Geoffrey becomes closer to Billy Quote 1. “I mean at your age like. You’re only young yet. You’re not old enough to start thinking about getting married.” This quote was chosen because it shows them when they are just starting to get close. This line, said by Geoffrey, is quite fatherly, Geoffrey is actually advising him on what to do rather that telling or ordering him to and it is said in quite a pleasant manner.
Quote 2 ” Well that’s something, anyroad. I suppose she’s all right. Just with you not saying anything, that’s all.” We chose this quote from Geoffrey as he talks about Billy’s engagement to Barbara and the fact that he was not informed before because Geoff is beginning to show emotion here. He sounds almost hurt that he wasn’t told earlier about something so important in his son’s life. Quote 3 “Only you’ll have to start thinking about getting married. Saving up and that.” This quote shows Geoffrey giving some more fatherly advice, something he hadn’t done throughout the play until this point. He is expressing his own views on the topic and actually trying to help him. He obviously feels Billy is now worthy of his advice whereas nearer the beginning of the play he thought he was a bit of a waste of space.
Quote 4 “Course I don’t believe in interfering. You’ve made your mind up. I don’t want you to come to me and say that I stopped you doing it.” This quote is very poignant in the closeness levels as Geoffrey for once isn’t forcing his views onto Billy he is giving Billy the choice to do what he wants. He has gained enough respect for Billy to allow and trust him to make his own decisions and respect and trust were both seriously lacking in their relationship in the opening scene.
Quote 5 “Well, Dad, it’s really not that simple. I’ve not really decided what we’ll be doing yet.” We chose this quote purely because Billy calls Geoffrey Dad for the first time in the play here and therefore this is the highest point of closeness. Geoffrey has obviously made Billy feel close enough to him and comfortable enough for him to actually call him that. Quote 6 “Well you want to get your bloody mind made up, lad. Right sharp. Before she does it for you.” The closeness levels starts going down slightly here. Geoffrey seems to adopt his gruff manner again a bit here which brings the closeness down a bit. However it is still quite high as it is still a fatherly piece of advice with an element of humour in it meaning they were feeling comfortable enough to joke about with each other.
Quote 7 “Talk bloody properly when you talk to me! You were talking different a minute ago, weren’t you? What did you just say to your grandma? What did you just say?” Once we reach this point however, all closeness has been lost. Geoffrey has completely lost his temper with Billy here and all the bonding they had just done is unravelled and Geoffrey seems to loose all the respect for Billy he had just gained. This exercise helped us gain perspective on Geoff and Billy’s relationship. By marking the moment we can accurately see how the relationship develops and changes at important points. You can conclude from this exercise that Billy and Geoff have a very complicated and difficult relationship.