The three plays that we have looked at over the past two years have been Philadelphia here I come, Death of a sales man and Billy Liar.
Philadelphia was set in the early 1960’s in the fictional town of Ballybeag, Death of a Sales man was set in the late 1950’s in America and Billy Liar was set in the late 1950’s in north Yorkshire.
The play Philadelphia, in set in Donegal, it is a small fishing town, the town as a whole is a very inward looking town, they don’t know much about anything that happens outside the town, they provide for themselves and it is a very rural society. Gar the character I play lives in a small fishing town with a shop attached to his house where Gar works as his father has done all his life. Their lives seem to revolve around the church and work. The play uses flashbacks; Gar has these flashbacks to a happy time in his life with his girlfriend Katy. Two actors play the main character: privet and public. Private is the character that says what Public thinks but is too scared to say. The play is about traditions, expectations and dreams.
In Death of a Sales man they are middle class people and are trying to recover from the 20th century industrial economic depression of the Cold War. It is a society with financial difficulties; there are big pressures to succeed and to live the American dream. The use of flashbacks in the play impacts the staging, so therefore a thrust stage would be useful. It is similar to Philadelphia here I come in that Biff is also expected to follow in his fathers footsteps and yet want to lead his own life.
In Billy Liar the family are impoverished, lower middle working class people and there are a few higher-class people like Mr Duxbury. They live in a small two-floored house, and just about enough money to survive with Billy and Geoffrey working. TV and music were a strong influence on the second generation. The play explores the need for escapism in Billy who is desperate to leave, but too frightened to take the leap.
All three plays are set in and around the same period of late 1950’s, early 1960’s. All three characters reflect a great sense of repression and unfulfilled lives, they feel worthless where they are at, and they need to get away. The leading males can just barely hold a job, that doesn’t interest them. The plays are work dominated, though the father figures who differ from the second-generation who believe that working does not dictate who you are. All they want is to be free and to get away to a new life and identity. The style of the plays is naturalistic with internal dramatic dialogue.