Issuu on Google+

Billy Elliot

A tool for using the theater across the curriculum to meet National Standards for Education • Production Overview • Lesson Guides • Student Activities • At-Home Projects • Reproducibles


Photo credit: David Scheinmann

All show artwork, show photography, behind the scenes photography and publicity photography together with the reproduced lyrics from “Billy Elliot” remain the copyright of Billy Broadway LLC. All rights reserved. © 2008 Billy Broadway LLC. No copyright material in this publication belonging to Billy Broadway LLC may be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of Billy Broadway LLC. Copyright 2008, Camp Broadway. LLC, All rights reserved. This publication is based on Billy Elliot the Musical with book and lyrics by Lee Hall and music by Elton John. The content of Billy Elliot the Musical edition of StageNOTES™: A Field Guide for Teachers is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America and all other countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights regarding publishing, reprint permissions, public readings, and mechanical or electronic reproduction, including but not limited to, CD-ROM, information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages are strictly prohibited. Printed in the United States of America. First Digital Edition: July 2008. For more information on StageNOTES™ and other theatre arts related programs, contact: Camp Broadway, LLC 336 West 37th Street, Suite 460 New York, New York 10018 Telephone: (212) 575-2929 Facsimile: (212) 575-3125 Email: info@campbroadway.com www.campbroadway.com


Table of Contents Using the Field Guide and Lessons....................4

LIFE SKILLS............................................... 18

Synopsis............................................................5

Life Skills Discussion Lesson........................... 19 Life Skills Writing Lesson................................ 19

HISTORY.......................................................9

Life Skills Experiential Lesson......................... 20

History Discussion Lesson............................... 11

Life Skills To Go Lesson.................................. 20

History Writing Lesson................................... 11 History Experiential Lesson............................ 12

THE ARTS................................................... 21

History After Hours Lesson............................. 12

The Arts Discussion Lesson............................. 23 The Arts Writing Lesson................................. 23

LANGUAGE ARTS.................................... 13

The Arts Experiential Lesson.......................... 23

Language Arts Discussion Lesson..................... 15 Language Arts Writing Lesson......................... 15 Language Arts Experiential Lesson.................. 15 Language Arts To Go Lesson........................... 15 BEHAVIORAL STUDIES.......................... 16 Behavioral Studies Discussion Lesson.............. 17 Behavioral Studies Writing Lesson................... 17 Behavioral Studies Experiential Lesson............ 17 Behavioral Studies To Go Lesson..................... 17

Billy Elliot the Musical Resources...................... 24


Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

Using the Field Guide Camp Broadway® is pleased to bring you this Billy Elliot the Musical edition of StageNOTES®, the 31st in our series. We are proud to be affiliated with this sweeping musical that debuted on Broadway during the 2008 Season. This guide has been developed as a teaching tool to assist educators in the classroom who are introducing the story in conjunction with the stage production. By using StageNOTES®, you will understand how Billy Elliot the Musical chronicles the events stemming from the famous miners’ strike in Britain during the 1980s (History), expands our vocabulary (Language Arts), illuminates the human condition (Behavioral Studies), aids in our own self-exploration (Life Skills) and encourages creative thinking and expression (The Arts). The Camp Broadway creative team, comprised of theatre educators and theater professionals, has developed a series of lesson plans inspired by and based on Billy Elliot the Musical, which can accompany class study. To assist you in preparing your presentation of each lesson, we have included: an objective, excerpts taken directly from the script, a discussion topic, a writing assignment and an interactive class activity. The reproducible lessons (handouts) accompany each lesson unit, which contains: an essay question; a creative exercise; and an “after hours activity” that encourages students to interact with family, friends, or the community at large. The curriculum categories offered in this field guide have been informed by the basic standards of education detailed in Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education, 2nd Edition, written by John S. Kendall and Robert J. Marzano (1997). This definitive compilation was published by Mid-Continent Regional Education Laboratory, Inc. (McREL) and the Association for Supervision and Curricular Development (ASCD) after a systematic collection, review and analysis of noteworthy national and state curricular documents in all subjects. The Billy Elliot the Musical field guide is for you, the educator, in response to your need for a standardscompliant curriculum. We truly hope this field guide will help you incorporate the themes and content of Billy Elliot the Musical into your classroom lessons.

4 |

Lisa Poelle CEO, Camp Broadway


Billy Elliot the Musical has been described as a modern-day fairy tale. It is the heartwarming story of a young boy whose life is changed forever when he discovers an unexpected passion for dance. The story is set against the turbulent background of the 1984-1985 miners’ strike in the small mining town of Easington in the North East of England. Billy is naturally expected to become a miner like his brother Tony, his father Jackie and his father’s father before him.

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

Synopsis

In Billy Elliot, despite the ravages of the strike, the family scrapes together 50 pence (approximately $0.79) each week for Billy to go to boxing lessons. After boxing one day, when Billy is left to pass the hall keys to the resident dance teacher, the exuberant Mrs. Wilkinson, he finds himself suddenly part of the dance class, connecting with the power of the music which, quite literally, moves him in a way that he would never previously have thought possible. Billy secretly begins to go to ballet classes, unable to tell his family who would never understand. Boys do boxing not ballet, after all. The only person who Billy does confide in is his friend Michael, who is happy to listen in between dressing up in his sister’s dresses, a pastime he can explain away very simply: “Me dad does it all the time.”

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

This particular mining community started in 1899 when industrial leaders sunk a pit, bringing thousands of workers to settle the area and form a relatively tight-knit community. Easington is probably best known for a mining accident on May 29, 1951, when a gas explosion trapped and eventually killed 81 miners.

Sparks fly when Billy’s dad, Jackie Elliot, discovers that his son has been frittering away his hard earned money on ballet instead of boxing. Nevertheless, Billy takes up Mrs. Wilkinson’s secret offer of free private classes in preparation for an audition for the Royal Ballet School.

In the pit communities, solidarity is the watchword and Tony and the strikers agree to pool together what little money they have to help Billy go to London and audition. Money from a strike breaker (a ‘scab’) is unwelcome, but it makes the difference and Billy and Jackie head to the bright lights of London. This is the story of a young boy who reaches beyond “his place in the world” to follow his heart’s desire and fight for his dreams.

Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

The strike, meanwhile, is getting more and more heated. There are pitched battles between the police and the miners that split friends and spur Tony Elliot, Billy’s older brother, to take the law into his own hands, as he raids his father’s toolbox for a weapon to use against the police. However, when Jackie Elliot unexpectedly stumbles upon Billy expressing his deepest emotions through dance, he is suddenly struck by how talented his son is, and heads off to see Mrs. Wilkinson to find out more about the audition.“Going back to work to earn travel money for the trip to London...” It may mean breaking the strike, but Jackie is determined.

| 5


Brief Background In 1984, the British National Union of Mineworkers (the NUM) went on strike to save the coal industry from the closures threatened by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who was politically opposed to state-owned industry and determined to crush the unions. The strike went on for one year. The miners’ families had to survive on handouts from other working people who supported their stand. However, by employing riot police to intimidate their communities, and importing coal from Eastern Europe, the government broke the unions. Over the subsequent ten years, the Conservative government dismantled the entire industry. The story of Billy Elliot takes place in the coal mines of the North East of England, where mining had been the major employer for hundreds of years. In 1984 more than 300,000 men worked in the mining industry; today there are less than 1,000. More than 98 percent of the coal used for British energy is now imported from abroad. -Playbill, Billy Elliot the Musical

Glossary of Terms Bairn: A child or baby. The Co-op: A chain of food stores commonly owned by their customers. Purveyor of pasties Cush: Excellent, very good. Gagging for(slang): To have an extreme desire for something. A Geordie: A person from Newcastle upon Tyne. Hot seating: A device whereby a character is taken out of their scene and asked questions by the audience, to illuminate their motivations and intentions and, perhaps, to explain their actions. The actor must stay in character throughout this process. Michael Hesseltine: Thatcher’s Industry Minister, famous for his long flowing hair.

Wikipedia

NCB: The National Coal Board. The body which controlled the British coal industry on behalf of the people.

An old postcard of a Cornish pasty

6 |

A pasty: A popular British pie reputedly invented by Cornish tin miners’ wives. Often filled with meat and potato. Scab: A worker who acts against trade union policies, especially a strikebreaker


Using the Lessons Discussion

Discussion

Students will discuss the positives and negatives associated with trade unions.

Consider the birth of trade unionism, as far back as the early guilds, cemented by the establishment of the Trade Unions Congress in 1868, and the Royal Commission to legalize trade union organizations in 1871. “New Unions,” representing semi-skilled and unskilled workers began to emerge in the 1880s, and in the early 20th Century trade unions formed the basis for the Labour Party – the first time that these workers had been given a voice in national politics.

Objective

Teaching Tips

Life Skills

Discussion

Discussion

To better understand how to create a satire.

Billy Elliot the Musical has been described as a “modern fairy tale.” Ask students to explore other fairy tales that they know (for example, Snow White, The Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood,, etc.), and to tell the tales using characters from Billy Elliot the Musical. In a Cinderella parody, for instance, Billy is desperate to go to the Ball (or in this case, to London for his audition), but his father and Tony, taking on the roles of the ugly sisters, will do anything to stop him. Dancing, after all, is not for lads. Luckily, Billy has a fairy godmother in the shape of Mrs. Wilkinson, who helps him to win his ultimate prize. In this version, Cinderella’s love for the handsome prince is represented by Billy’s passion for his dancing. After brainstorming other fairy tales, have students share their findings with the rest of the class.

Objective Teaching Tips List possible ideas for satiric fairy tale adaptations on the blackboard or smart board.

Language Arts

Writing

Objective To write a satiric short story or one act play based on a classic fairy tale.

Teaching Tips As students work, encourage them to share the pieces aloud with their group. Students writing one act plays should assign roles and listen to their dialogue to see if the piece comes alive.

Experiential

Objective

To create a monologue describing the thrill of an imagined adventure.

Writing Divide the class into small groups. Have each group select a classic fairy tale and write a modern adaptation of it as either a short story or a one act play. They should set their stories in their own neighborhoods, using the vocabulary that they have grown up with and the experiences they have had.

Experiential

Discussion

The exercise illustrates interdependency within a group while working towards a common goal.

The story of Billy Elliot was first told as a movie. Later, it was made into the musical play. Make a list of differences between presenting a story as a film or on the stage. List some reasons an artist might choose to present his / her ideas in one or both mediums.

Objective

Writing

Objective Students will come

Writing

Discussion

Discussion

To help students recognize that some aspects of their lives are within their ability to change and other areas are beyond their control.

Billy’s father is out of his comfort zone throughout the audition scene, but as an audience, we know that he is prepared to suffer this for the benefit of his son. In fact, there is considerable conflict inside Jackie Elliot. Earlier, having seen Billy dance, he has realized that he has to make the choice of whether or not to support his son. The character of Jackie Elliot is complex and worthy of discussion. It requires an understanding and appreciation of the sort of community in which Billy has grown up. There is, undoubtedly, an assumption that sons will grow up, as Tony Elliot has, to follow in their fathers’ footsteps and work in the mine.

Objective

Teaching Tips Who is responsible for your behavior? Is there such a thing as right and wrong behavior or is it okay to do anything one feels like doing? How do we determine acceptable and unacceptable behavior? What are and long Photo credit:the Peter short Lueders/Paul Kolnik Studio term consequences of different behaviors?

Use props as a stimulus for writing a short story or poem. A single chair placed on a table in the to better understand middle of a classroom will mean different things to different students. Try laying the chair on its side the creative process of adapting a story for to provide a suggestion of dramatic image or conflict that students can bring into their stories. Recently, there was a movie entitled The Bucket List. In the film,the two stage. men with terminal illnesses decide to go on a series of adventures. Think of an activity you have dreamed of doing, but have Writing Try including a feather from Mrs. Wilkinson’s “Shine” routine or one of Billy’s boxing gloves for never done. Perhaps it is something you might want to do in the future. Objective extra interest. Use the ‘modern fairy tale’ idea of Billy Elliot the Musical to explore other fairy tales Teaching Tips and retelling them in a modern context. Students will practice Research some specific information about the activity on the internet. Imagine you go on an What shapes do you translating feelings adventure which encompasses this dreamed of activity. Write an extended monologue see created by theor a short into ideas they can story describing the adventure. juxtaposition of the express verbally or in

Experiential

Teaching Tips Encourage writers to be in the middle of the adventure when they begin.

chair and the props? What images pop into your mind? Can you translate this into a dramatic conflict?

Experiential

writing.

Billy Elliot the Musical recognizes and embraces the fact that it is occupying a different form to its filmic cousin. The adaptation of a film to the stage is a complex process. Rarely is it possibleTeaching simply Tips to take the script and transpose it. Give students some models of creative

Experiential

In the show, for instance, Billy says goodbye to his dead Mother. This does not happen in the film. narrative personal essays to written for Clearly, in the stage production, there cannot easily be a bus journey for Billy, and so his goodbye college admission. Tony, his brother, is much shorter on stage.

To better understand the adaptation process when a work of art is transferred from one artistic medium to another.

Explore this adaptation process. Watch the final section of Billy Elliot the film, from about 92 | 23 minutes in when Billy visits Mrs. Wilkinson to say goodbye. Then, study the stage show script from the same place and compare the similarities and differences. (See script on page 24 of this guide.)

Objective

List three unions you know about through family members or friends. List some reasons unions are necessary. List some criticisms often heard regarding unions.

Writing

Objective Examine the right to strike from the perspectives of labor and management.

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

The Arts

Have the class take a closer look at Billy, Jackie Elliot, and Tony Elliot. First, have students make a list of the circumstances beyond their control. For example, they are all born in a certain social class. Then have students make a list of comparable circumstances in their own lives. Next, have students make a list of character attributes each of these characters displays. Then have students make a list of the comparable characteristics they personally reasons possess. What behavioral choices did these characters make and List how didfive these choices impact their lives? How did they impact others? What other choices could they have made and what might union members might have been different if they had behaved differently? Now apply these same questions to your own choose to strike. List life or that of someone you know. Encourage students to explore the link between behavior and consequences and how the behavioral choices one makes enablefive or impair their abilityatostrike change reasons their circumstances.

Teaching Tips

Writing

would be harmful to a company and a nation.

Experiential

Billy struggles for the words to explain his feelings when asked by the panel how he feels when he is dancing. Finding the right words is often hard, particularly when you are trying to explain something emotional.

Objective

The illustrates Ask students to imagine they are at a college admissions interview. The exercise representative has just asked them to describe something about which they feel passionately,interdependency be it a sport, music, art, acting, science, video games or dancing as it is for Billy. How do you feel when they achieve their best within a strongly group in their chosen area? What is it about their passion that makes them feel more for itwhile than anything else in their lives? How would they feel if it was takenworking away? What drives them to want towards a to improve? common goal.

Teaching Tips Teach the exercises in small, repeatable | 19 increments.

Which version is most effective? Why might the Mother not have been included at the end of the film and the grown up Billy was not included at the end of the stage show?

Photo credit: Peter Lueders/Paul Kolnik Studio

History

Ask students to brainstorm the concept of trade unionism. Why do we need unions? List 10 reasons workers might decide to strike. List 10 reasons the government shouldn’t allow workers who are in vital industries (i.e. coal, oil or gas) to strike.

Writing Write an essay in the voice of a union president urging his members to strike. Write an essay in the voice of a government spokesperson telling the media why the workers in a vital industry should not be permitted to strike.

Experiential The theme of solidarity in Billy Elliot the Musical is exemplified by the use of unison movement throughout the show. Try this unison movement exercise entitled “Jump, Jump, Jump.” It will require an open classroom space with desks moved to the perimeters of the room freeing up a large open space in the center. Divide the class into five or six groups. Each group should consist of at least three students. Have each group form a straight line facing the front of the room. Each performer will line up about three feet behind the person in front of him. The exercise will begin with the first line jumping in place facing front, at the same time, they count to “nine” loudly. On the number “ten”, line one will turn as they jump, clockwise, to face line two. When they have landed in their place, line two will jump nine times and then turn on the tenth jump just as line one did. This unison movement will be repeated until the movement gets to the last line. The last line will jump eight times and turn on the ninth jump. Then, each row will jump eight times and turn on the ninth jump. When it is line one’s turn again, they will jump seven times and turn on eight. Repeat the process until each row gets to “one”, and executes just one jump and a turn.

To Go

Teaching Tips Students can make lists of similarities and differences between the film and stage versions of the scene on the blackboard or smart board.

To Go Using a list of films provided by your teacher, select one scene and think about how you would adapt it for the stage. What changes would you make, if any? What differences in form must you use in order to achieve a successful adaptation? Compare your adaptations with the original film. What did this process teach you about both mediums?

| 11 | 15

Featured Lesson Units 1 History 2 Language Arts 3 Behavioral Studies 4 Life Skills 5 The Arts

The Standards listed throughout the StageNOTES™ Field Guide are excerpted from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (2nd Edition) by John S. Kendall and Robert J. Marzano, published by Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory, Inc. (McREL) and the Association for Supervision and Curricular Development (ASCD), 1997.

Each lesson unit (History, Language Arts, etc.) contains the following lessons:

Each StageNOTES™ lesson generally includes the following components:

Discussion: The focus is on facilitating an in-depth class dialogue.

Objective: An overall note to the teacher outlining the goals of the lesson to follow.

Writing: The focus is on the expression of thoughts in written form. Experiential: The focus is on understanding social dynamics as well as collaboration and teamwork in small and large groups. A take-home “After Hours” lesson

From the script: An excerpt or situation from the script of Billy Elliot the Musical to help “set the stage” for the activity that follows. Exercise: A detailed description and instructions for the activity to be facilitated in class. Teaching Tips: Direct questions teachers may use to help guide the students through the activity.

| 7


The

Guide to

Theatergoing Etiquette )NTHEEARLYPARTOFTHENINETEENTHCENTURY THEATRICALPERFORMANCES USUALLYBEGANATSIXOCLOCK!NEVENINGWOULDLASTFOUROR lVEHOURS BEGINNINGWITHASHORThCURTAINRAISER vFOLLOWEDBY AlVE ACTPLAY WITHOTHERSHORTPIECESPRESENTEDDURINGTHE INTERMISSIONS)TMIGHTBECOMPAREDROUGHLYTOTODAYSPRIME TIME TELEVISION ASERIESOFSHOWSDESIGNEDTOPASSTHETIME7ITHNO TELEVISIONORRADIO THETHEATERWASAPLACETOlNDCOMPANIONSHIP LIGHT ANDWARMTHONACOLDWINTERSEVENING !STHECENTURYPROGRESSED THETHEATERAUDIENCEREmECTEDTHE CHANGINGSOCIALCLIMATE-OREWELL TO DOPATRONSSTILLARRIVEDAT SIXOCLOCKFORTHEFULLPROGRAMOFTHEEVENING WHILEHALFPRICE ADMISSIONWASOFFEREDATEIGHTOREIGHT THIRTYTOTHEWORKING CLASS4HISALLOWEDFORTHEIRLONGERWORKDAYANDTIGHTERBUDGETS 3TILL THETHEATERSWEREALWAYSFULL ALLOWINGPEOPLETOESCAPETHE DRUDGERYOFTHEIRDAILYLIVESANDENJOYTHEMSELVES "ECAUSEOFTHISPOPULARITY THEATERSBEGANTOBEBUILTLARGERAND LARGER.EWPROGRESSINCONSTRUCTIONALLOWEDBALCONIESTOBEBUILT OVERHANGINGTHESEATSBELOWˆINCONTRASTTOTHEEARLIERSTYLEOF RECEDINGTIERS4HISMEANTTHATTHEAUDIENCEONTHEMAINmOOR THESECTIONCALLEDhTHEORCHESTRAv WEREOUTOFTHELINEOFSIGHTOF THESPECTATORSINTHEGALLERIES!SARESULT THECROWDSBECAMELESS BUSYPEOPLEWATCHINGANDGOSSIPINGAMONGTHEMSELVES ANDMORE INTERESTEDINWATCHINGTHEPERFORMANCE4HETHEATERMANAGERS

BEGANTHEPRACTICEOFDIMMINGTHELIGHTSINTHESEATINGAREACALLED THEhHOUSELIGHTSv FOCUSINGTHEATTENTIONOFTHEAUDIENCEONTHE STAGE4HEADVENTOFGASLIGHTINGANDTHEhLIMELIGHTvTHEEARLIEST SPOTLIGHTS MADETHEELABORATESETTINGSEVENMOREATTRACTIVETOTHE EYE GAININGTHEAUDIENCESRAPTATTENTION "YTHES THEWEALTHIERAUDIENCESWERENOLONGERLOOKING FORAFULLEVENINGSENTERTAINMENT#URTAINTIMEWASPUSHEDBACK TOEIGHTOCLOCKFORTHECONVENIENCEOFPATRONSARRIVINGFROM DINNER ONLYONEPLAYWOULDBEPRESENTED INSTEADOFFOURORlVE FREEINGTHEAUDIENCEFOROTHERSOCIALACTIVITIESAFTERWARD-ATINEE AFTERNOON PERFORMANCESWERENOTGIVENREGULARLYUNTILTHES ALLOWINGSOCIETYLADIES WHOWOULDNOTHAVEVENTUREDOUTLATEAT NIGHT THEOPPORTUNITYTOATTENDTHETHEATER .OWINANEWMILLENNIUM MANYOFTHESETRADITIONSARESTILLWITH US4HETHEATERISSTILLAPLACETOhSEEANDBESEENvEIGHTOCLOCK ISSTILLTHESTANDARDCURTAINTIMEANDTHEEXCITEDCHATTEROFTHE AUDIENCEFALLSTOAHUSHWHENTHEHOUSELIGHTSDIMANDTHESTAGE LIGHTSGOUP ANDANOTHERNIGHTON"ROADWAYBEGINS 9OUCANMAKESUREEVERYONEYOUKNOWHASTHEVERYBEST EXPERIENCEATTHETHEATERBYSHARINGTHIS4HEATER%TIQUETTEWITH THEM!NDNOW ENJOYTHESHOW

Being a Good Audience Remember, going to the theater isn’t like going to a movie. There are some different rules to keep in mind when you’re at a live performance. Believe it or not, the actors can actually hear you. The same acoustics that make it possible for you to hear the actors means that they can hear all the noises an audience makes: talking, unwrapping candy, cell phones ringing. That’s why, when you’re at a show, there is no food or drink at your seats (eat your treats at intermission; save the popcorn-munching for the multiplex) No talking (even if you’re just explaining the plot to the person next to you) Always keep cell phones and beepers turned off (This even means no texting your friends during the show to tell them how great it is...) Of course, what the actors like to hear is how much you’re enjoying the performance. So go ahead and laugh at the funny parts, clap for the songs, and save your biggest cheers and applause for your favorite actors at the curtain call. That’s their proof of a job well done.

8 |


History

The Miners’ Strike: 1984-85 Strained Beginnings

Ian MacGregor, Chairman of the National Coal Board (NCB), believed that when he joined the organization in September of 1983, Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had already decided to strike. According to

(UK) was now sold to the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) or exported overseas. The NCB was unable to remain competitive in its exports and the CEGB complained that coal prices were driven up drastically with the rise of new technology. After the 1974 miners’ strike, The Labour Government devised a “Plan for Coal” that committed the country to withstanding a steadily growing demand for coal, despite the fact that the country’s real need for coal was diminishing because of the world trade depression of the 1970s and the rise of nuclear and oilburning plants producing electricity without the need for coal. As a result, the NCB was operating at a significant loss and was being subsidized by the taxpayers at a cost of £875 million per year.

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

Clash of Values

Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister from 1979, believed that the “coal mining industry had come to symbolize everything that was wrong with Britain.” Sensing the inevitability of the strike, she began to build up the national stocks of oil. Arthur Scargill continued to believe that no pit should be closed

Summary of Standards for HISTORY: Understanding and analyzing chronological relationships and patterns: n

MacGregor, demand for coal had dropped by two-thirds since the 1920s and a re-structuring of the industry was long overdue. Those pits not turning a profit had to close and productivity had to be increased to secure at least some of the miners’ jobs. He argued that coal mining was a labor intensive and inefficient industry – with cheap oil and gas power available, the industry had become unsustainable. On January 1, 1947, Clement Atlee’s Labour Government created the NCB to manage the coal industry “on behalf of the people.” Atlee proposed a large-scale nationalization program that would give the government power to oversee the industry – which was not only socialist in nature but also attractive to the NUM. Through the early 1980s, the role of coal in the market place had changed. Most of the coal mined in the United Kingdom

n

 nalyze influence of specific beliefs on these times. A How would events be different in the absence of these beliefs? Analyze the effects specific decisions had on history. How would things have been different in the absence of these specific decisions?

Understanding the historical perspective: n

n

n n

n

 nderstand that the consequences of human U intentions are influenced by the means of carrying them out Understand how the past affects our private lives and society in general Perceive past events with historical empathy Evaluate credibility and authenticity of historical sources Evaluate the validity and credibility of different historical interpretations

| 9


Photo credit: David Scheinmann

unless it was physically exhausted. Any pit that was operating at a loss simply needed greater investment. Scargill’s Marxist view that if there are resources of coal, then the coal should be reduced regardless of economic implications contrasted sharply with Thatcher’s view that the NCB had not properly regulated the NUM, destroying future economic prospects. Scargill never called for a national ballot regarding the possibility of a strike in the face of pit closures, believing it should be an issue dealt with by local NUM members. The announcement on March 1, 1984 that the Cortonwood colliery in South Yorkshire was closing precipitated the first of these local ballots and became both vindication of the NUM’s belief in a “secret hit list” of pits that the NCB wanted to close and justification for their growing series of local strikes (which began on March 8, 1984).

The Strike

Scargill was resolved that the strike would be adopted up and down the country while Thatcher and MacGregor were determined to use any tactics to ensure that this would not become a reality – thus they dedicated resources to the police and courts against the strikers. Battle lines were drawn between mobilized police, brought in from long-distance to quell the strikers and the flying pickets, who had traveled from their own pits to ensure that others supported their cause. The real victims of the strike were the communities affected on a day-to-day basis; small local economies owed their survival almost entirely to them. As the positions of the NUM and the NCB became more entrenched as the strike continued,

10 |

communities were split as some felt the only option was to return to work. Families and communities were split. Reporters wrote stories about family members and friends who were, seemingly, becoming enemies. Conlin Hughes, writing in The Times on June 18, 1984 observed that “the contrast defies splits and solidarities which deepen each day the strike continues, often overriding the apparent issues of the dispute itself…” As the strike progressed, as anger deepened, hardship increased, violence intensified, rhetoric became tougher and splits widened, solidarity, once the preserve of the miners, became the metaphoric battle cry of both sides. The strike eventually ended on March 3, 1985. On the following day, The Daily Mirror commented that “Nobody in elected office, whether president of a union or prime minister of the country, has a right to fight to a finish when it is the nation’s finish. Britain has been put back a year but the scars will be with us for a generation.”


Discussion

Discussion

Students will discuss the positives and negatives associated with trade unions.

Consider the birth of trade unionism, as far back as the early guilds, cemented by the establishment of the Trade Unions Congress in 1868, and the Royal Commission to legalize trade union organizations in 1871. “New Unions,” representing semi-skilled and unskilled workers began to emerge in the 1880s, and in the early 20th Century trade unions formed the basis for the Labour Party – the first time that these workers had been given a voice in national politics.

Objective

Teaching Tips List three unions you know about through family members or friends. List some reasons unions are necessary. List some criticisms often heard regarding unions.

Writing

Objective Examine the right to strike from the perspectives of labor and management.

Teaching Tips List five reasons union members might choose to strike. List five reasons a strike would be harmful to a company and a nation.

Experiential

Objective

The exercise illustrates interdependency within a group while working towards a common goal.

Teaching Tips Teach the exercises in small, repeatable increments.

Photo credit: Peter Lueders/Paul Kolnik Studio

History

Ask students to brainstorm the concept of trade unionism. Why do we need unions? List 10 reasons workers might decide to strike. List 10 reasons the government shouldn’t allow workers who are in vital industries (i.e. coal, oil or gas) to strike.

Writing Write an essay in the voice of a union president urging his members to strike. Write an essay in the voice of a government spokesperson telling the media why the workers in a vital industry should not be permitted to strike.

Experiential The theme of solidarity in Billy Elliot the Musical is exemplified by the use of unison movement throughout the show. Try this unison movement exercise entitled “Jump, Jump, Jump.” It will require an open classroom space with desks moved to the perimeters of the room freeing up a large open space in the center. Divide the class into five or six groups. Each group should consist of at least three students. Have each group form a straight line facing the front of the room. Each performer will line up about three feet behind the person in front of him. The exercise will begin with the first line jumping in place facing front, at the same time, they count to “nine” loudly. On the number “ten”, line one will turn as they jump, clockwise, to face line two. When they have landed in their place, line two will jump nine times and then turn on the tenth jump just as line one did. This unison movement will be repeated until the movement gets to the last line. The last line will jump eight times and turn on the ninth jump. Then, each row will jump eight times and turn on the ninth jump. When it is line one’s turn again, they will jump seven times and turn on eight. Repeat the process until each row gets to “one”, and executes just one jump and a turn.

| 11


History Repeat the exercise and ask the students to call the numbers out loudly. Then, they should jump in unison and turn the same way at the same time. This will be a challenge for some groups. Finally, repeat the exercise without students calling the numbers out loud. They will need to rely on their listening skills and use their peripheral vision to be successful. After the exercise, discuss the difficulties of actors performing in unison and why it is very impressive when we see it on stage as we do in Billy Elliot.

After Hours

Objective Students will connect a divisive historical event to their own lives.

Teaching Tips Guide students to see that how divisive events are viewed often depends upon the history of the individual experiencing the event.

12 |

Photo credit: Alistair Muir

Ask students to select individual movements and see if they can perform these movements in unison, working together with a small group – this process will either need to be recorded or one person from each group will need to stand out and watch, as this is the only way to detect whether the group is really moving in unison. Recording and playback of such sequences will also help to reinforce the effect of successful unison work. Another exercise might be to ask students to select other kinds of individual movements to see if they can perform these movements in unison, working together with a small group – this process will either need to be recorded, or one person from each group will need to stand out and watch, as this is the only way to detect whether the group is really moving in unison. Recording and observing the playback of such sequences will also help to reinforce the effect of successful unison work.

Students may find it easier to consider pedestrian movement as a stimulus for individual movements that work successfully when performed in unison. For instance, ask students to walk forward for eight counts, salute for eight counts, turn for eight counts. Put the individual movements together to create a larger piece of unison work.

After Hours Conduct three interviews outside of class, take notes, and bring them in for discussion. Interview two members of your family from different generations (for example, your aunt and your grandfather). Ask each of them to describe an event they have lived through that was divisive: meaning an event that divides people, communities, countries, etc. Great examples of a divisive event are the civil rights movement, anti-war protests in the 1960s, and the women’s suffrage movement. What did they experience? What did they feel as it was happening? How was or wasn’t it resolved? Be prepared to discuss how their perspectives shaped their accounts of these events.


Language Arts

“It’s a good bit of painting, mind. That’s what you call emulsion.” Stephen Daldry talks about his work on Billy Elliot the Musical. 1. W  hat is different in your approach to film directing and directing for the stage?

That’s a hard question. In film it only has to happen once, while on stage it has to happen every night. So, there is a need for a much longer rehearsal process for the theater in order for the actors to build a structure that they can rely on every evening. Creating theatre is more fun in a way because you are together for so much longer: you’re more of a family. On the other hand film – ostensibly – gives you more control over the final product, through cutting and editing. They’re both so different but you bring the same attitudes and skills to very different problems. In both you’re doing your best to tell a good story but while in film you can do that with choice of shot in theatre you have to do it by establishing exactly where the focus is on the stage.

We all got involved very early on. Once the idea was mooted it was pretty much a collaborative process. Obviously things happen while you’re filming that you think you can do better later on, just as things happen when filming, through chance and luck, that you want to keep and develop. Once of the biggest differences between the film and the stage show is that on film we didn’t have to have young boys who could sing, dance in many different styles including ballet and act. On film the amount of time Billy spends dancing is actually relatively little. On stage Billy has to dance often and brilliantly. This was a risk we took in so far as, at the time, we didn’t know we would find the boys to do it. We were so lucky to find the boys we did – and continue to – find.

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

2. A  t what point in the production process did you become involved in the adaptation? Was there anything that you particularly wanted Lee Hall to change when the film became a musical? Was there anything that you were determined should stay the same?

3. W  hile the stage version of Billy Elliot is still clearly Billy’s story, it seems to have a much greater emphasis on the story of the mining dispute and the effect on the community than the film. It is also grittier, particularly in terms of language. How did this change of emphasis develop?

I think it’s fair to say that it was a conscious decision to make the stage show more political than the film and much of an elegy for the destruction of the Trade Union movement by Thatcher. The gritty language was inevitable given that we wanted to articulate the rage of the community at the hands of the forces of Thatcher’s disposal. The fact is that people swear; the fact is that children use bad language. We didn’t want to shy away from this.

| 13


I don’t see the scenes you mention as being especially filmic. I would see them as theatrical.You necessarily have less stuff at your disposal in the theater so the task is to create as much atmosphere as you can with very little. When Jackie Elliot visits Mrs. Wilkinson all you can see is a door, some snow and two actors in the light on a bare stage. This isn’t an effect that you could create on film, nor would you really want to. While Peter Darling (choreography) and Martin Koch (musical supervision and orchestrations) had done very successful musicals before, the rest of us were quite new to the form. It seems a bit silly to have a bunch of fantastic musicians hanging around without using them. Music is another tool you can use for telling a story, maintaining tension and creating emotion. I don’t know if it was a deliberate decision but like so many other things that happen in a creative process it seemed obvious at the time. 5. In Act One, the juxtaposing of the miners on the picket line and the police with the ballet class is particularly striking and complex. Could you describe how this scene came about through the rehearsal process?

Summary of Standards for LANGUAGE ARTS: Writing n

n n

n

n

 emonstrates competence in the general skills and D strategies of the writing process Prewriting, drafting and revising, editing and publishing Demonstrates competence in the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Reading n

n

n

 emonstrates competence in the general skills and D strategies of the reading process Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts

Listening and Speaking n

 emonstrates competence in speaking and listening D as tools for learning

14 |

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

4. M  uch of the stage show seems to have a very filmic quality to it (i.e. the scene where Jackie Elliot goes to see Mrs. Wilkinson, the miners’ lift descending at the back of the stage with Billy in the foreground, and the music used to underscore scenes and dialogue as well as provide the songs). Do you think that this quality was inevitable given that you are a film director, adapting a film, or was it a conscious decision?

It’s very astute of you to pick this particular number because it was created in a slightly different way than some of the other numbers. Lee wanted to find a way to reproduce the jump cut sequence from the film in which you see Billy practicing and practicing the pirouette until he can do it. At the same time we wanted to emphasize that Billy was pursuing his dreams while the strike was developing, that Billy was pursuing his dream despite the strike. We didn’t know just how we would get the two elements to make sense on stage together. We organized a workshop in which all three of us, Peter, Lee, and me fought – sometimes vociferously – our different corners. The result was a true collaboration and the number contains the tensions between our different approaches to telling a story. 6. W  hat discussions did you have surrounding the issue of strong language in the show? How would you reassure teachers on this subject when they are considering bringing students to see Billy Elliot the Musical?

We talked about this quite a lot. It’s a difficult issue and I suppose we could have taken it all out or substituted words like “feckin.” I seem to remember we did try certain scenes without it but it just felt ridiculous, as if we were in the 19th century covering piano legs with lace. I believe that what we have on stage is true to the lives we are portraying – as I’ve said above – and true to the rage and anger of a community under threat. Since the show opened we’ve been very careful to state that the show contains strong language. Surprisingly we have had very few complaints, certainly many less than we thought we’d get. I think the audience appreciates that the language is true to the people portrayed on stage.


Language Arts Experiential

Discussion

The exercise illustrates interdependency within a group while working towards a common goal.

The story of Billy Elliot was first told as a movie. Later, it was made into the musical play. Make a list of differences between presenting a story as a film or on the stage. List some reasons an artist might choose to present his / her ideas in one or both mediums.

Objective

Photo credit: Peter Lueders/Paul Kolnik Studio

Writing

Objective Students will come to better understand the creative process of adapting a story for the stage.

Teaching Tips What shapes do you see created by the juxtaposition of the chair and the props? What images pop into your mind? Can you translate this into a dramatic conflict?

Writing Use props as a stimulus for writing a short story or poem. A single chair placed on a table in the middle of a classroom will mean different things to different students. Try laying the chair on its side to provide a suggestion of dramatic image or conflict that students can bring into their stories. Try including a feather from Mrs. Wilkinson’s “Shine” routine or one of Billy’s boxing gloves for extra interest. Use the ‘modern fairy tale’ idea of Billy Elliot the Musical to explore other fairy tales and retelling them in a modern context.

Experiential Billy Elliot the Musical recognizes and embraces the fact that it is occupying a different form to its filmic cousin. The adaptation of a film to the stage is a complex process. Rarely is it possible simply to take the script and transpose it.

Experiential

In the show, for instance, Billy says goodbye to his dead Mother. This does not happen in the film. Clearly, in the stage production, there cannot easily be a bus journey for Billy, and so his goodbye to Tony, his brother, is much shorter on stage.

To better understand the adaptation process when a work of art is transferred from one artistic medium to another.

Explore this adaptation process. Watch the final section of Billy Elliot the film, from about 92 minutes in when Billy visits Mrs. Wilkinson to say goodbye. Then, study the stage show script from the same place and compare the similarities and differences. (See script on page 24 of this guide.)

Objective

Which version is most effective? Why might the Mother not have been included at the end of the film and the grown up Billy was not included at the end of the stage show?

To Go

Teaching Tips Students can make lists of similarities and differences between the film and stage versions of the scene on the blackboard or smart board.

To Go Using a list of films provided by your teacher, select one scene and think about how you would adapt it for the stage. What changes would you make, if any? What differences in form must you use in order to achieve a successful adaptation? Compare your adaptations with the original film. What did this process teach you about both mediums?

| 15


Behavioral Studies “Start a new fashion, buck all the trends.” Billy visits Michael, where he is very surprised to discover his friend dressed up in his sister’s clothes. Michael convinces Billy that this is perfectly normal behavior, and proceeds to dress a reluctant Billy up too, at which point they burst into an energetic dance routine. Michael’s story is similar to Billy’s in the sense that have both grown up in a small mining community where people are expected to behave in a particular way and there is little opportunity for them to be the individuals they want to be. In this narrow-minded environment, it is assumed that any boy interested in ballet must be gay regardless of whether this is the case or not, and no boy would ever be encouraged to take classes. Homosexuality would certainly be frowned up, if it were ever discussed, and the community would certainly be shocked by Michael’s dressing up.

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

It is not until Jackie, Billy’s father, sees and appreciates the power of Billy’s talent that he can begin to even consider offering his support. Eventually accompanying his son to the Royal Ballet School audition, Jackie steps into a completely alien world, and although now supportive of his son, he is still wary when he meets a professional male adult dancer for the first time.

Summary of Standards for BEHAVIORAL STUDIES n

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

n

16 |

n

n

 nderstands that group and cultural U influences contribute to human development, identity and behavior Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership, and different ways that groups function Understands that interactions among learning, inheritance and physical development affect human behavior Understands conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions


Behavioral Studies Discussion

Objective Students will examine how people’s opinions are shaped by the media.

Teaching Tips Provide students with links to websites, articles, editorials or op-ed pieces which present varied points of view. Look at the sources for the information and see if an obvious slant – a social, political or moral bias can be detected.

Experiential

Objective

To view life from someone else’s perspective.

Teaching Tips Encourage students to place themselves in the context of the play and honestly answer as the character would.

Discussion The media is regularly responsible for presenting opinions as fact on the position of minority groups in society. Students, looking at the messages and values that are portrayed by media organizations, could consider Michael’s story from the point of view of the community in which he lives. Why is it, for instance, that certain sections of society feel so strongly about particular minority groups? Internet research, particularly amongst news sites, may provide part of the answer. Clearly, Michael’s story is from the early 1980s and some may argue that attitudes have changed, but students may wish to investigate whether this is actually the case. Examine some of the news stories related to the 2008 presidential election. Read some stories related to the issues of prejudice connected to Barack Obama’s candidacy. Look at news stories connected to California’s Proposition 8. Does the media provide the rational, balanced viewpoint it claims?

Writing Write and design your own newspaper front page, based on the attitudes that Michael could have encountered in County Durham after Billy left for London. Would he have encountered verbal or physical abuse? What position would his father, a working miner, have taken? Consider, for instance, Jackie Elliot’s attitude towards Billy dancing and his reaction to the older dancer at the audition. Consider your story from the point of view of two newspapers with differing positions. How would the story run in your local paper, for instance, and how would this differ from a newspaper like The New York Times or The New York Post?

Experiential Set up a chain in the front of the room to “Hot Seat” students as Billy. Students who are empathetic to Michael’s situation and feelings will take turns in the “hot seat.” Other class members will play people in Michael’s family and community. They will question Billy about his friend Michael in order to better understand him. Next, “Hot Seat” students as Michael and allow class members representing Billy’s family and community question him about Billy’s desire to become a ballet dancer.

To Go Put yourself in the position of a minority group to which you do not belong. How would you react to the lack of tolerance that may be directed at you, perhaps on a daily basis? Write five diary entries from this new perspective. In what ways might your life be affected by other people’s attitudes? To what extent can you live your life without fear or intimidation? Be sure your entries capture your day-to-day experiences from this new perspective. It is essential that your entries not emphasize the dramatic but, instead, focus on how intolerance might seep into your everyday life. Use these entries, and your newfound experiences, to discuss how your views on intolerance might have changed.

| 17


Life Skills In the musical, Billy’s dad makes a difficult personal decision when he decides to become a strike breaker. He becomes a “scab” and returns to work because he needs money for Billy’s ballet audition in London. What is perhaps even more difficult is that he must explain his decision to his other son, Tony.

HE COULD BE A STAR FOR ALL WE KNOW WE DON’T KNOW HOW FAR HE CAN GO AND ONLY I CAN GIVE WHAT I CAN GIVE AND ONLY I CAN GIVE WHAT I CAN GIVE HE COULD GO AND HE COULD SHINE NOT JUST STAY HERE COUNTING TIME SON WE’VE GOT THE CHANCE TO LET HIM LIVE,YES, WE’VE GOT THE CHANCE TO LET HIM LIVE In the song, Dad sings about giving his “kid a future.” Parents often make sacrifices both big and small to help their children. Many

Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

He sings: DAD I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE SON IT WAS TEARING ME APART WE’RE LOST, WE’RE FINISHED MAN, WE’RE THROUGH I NEED TO GIVE THE KID A FUTURE I NEED TO LOOK HIM IN THE EYE BELIEVE ME SON I’D DO THE SAME FOR YOU

times these actions do not even involve money, but are personal sacrifices made out of love. Make a list of 10 things your parents or guardians have done, or that parents might do, because they love their children and want them to have better futures. Write a letter to one of your parents or guardians thanking them for a personal sacrifice they have made which is, in some way, related to your future.

Summary of Standards for LIFE SKILLS n

Thinking and Reasoning n

n

n

n

n

n

 nderstands and applies the basic principles of U presenting an argument Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning Effectively uses mental processes that are based in identifying similarities and differences (compares, contrasts, classifies) Understands and applies basic principles of hypothesis testing and scientific inquiry Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques Applies decision-making techniques

Working with Others n n n

 ontributes to the overall effort of a group C Uses conflict-resolution techniques Works well with diverse individuals and in diverse situations

18 |

n

 isplays effective interpersonal communication skills D Demonstrates leadership skills

Self-Regulation n n n n n n

 ets and manages goals S Performs self-appraisal Considers risks Demonstrates perseverance Maintains a healthy self-concept Restrains impulsivity

Life Work n n

n n n n n n

 akes effective use of basic tools M Uses various information sources, including those of a technical nature, to accomplish specific tasks Manages money effectively Pursues specific jobs Makes general preparation for entering the work force Makes effective use of basic life skills Displays reliability and a basic work ethic Operates effectively within organizations


Discussion

Discussion

To help students recognize that some aspects of their lives are within their ability to change and other areas are beyond their control.

Billy’s father is out of his comfort zone throughout the audition scene, but as an audience, we know that he is prepared to suffer this for the benefit of his son. In fact, there is considerable conflict inside Jackie Elliot. Earlier, having seen Billy dance, he has realized that he has to make the choice of whether or not to support his son. The character of Jackie Elliot is complex and worthy of discussion. It requires an understanding and appreciation of the sort of community in which Billy has grown up. There is, undoubtedly, an assumption that sons will grow up, as Tony Elliot has, to follow in their fathers’ footsteps and work in the mine.

Objective

Teaching Tips Who is responsible for your behavior? Is there such a thing as right and wrong behavior or is it okay to do anything one feels like doing? How do we determine acceptable and unacceptable behavior? What are the short and long term consequences of different behaviors?

Writing

Objective Students will practice translating feelings into ideas they can express verbally or in writing.

Teaching Tips Give students some models of creative personal narrative essays written for college admission.

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

Life Skills

Have the class take a closer look at Billy, Jackie Elliot, and Tony Elliot. First, have students make a list of the circumstances beyond their control. For example, they are all born in a certain social class. Then have students make a list of comparable circumstances in their own lives. Next, have students make a list of character attributes each of these characters displays. Then have students make a list of the comparable characteristics they personally possess. What behavioral choices did these characters make and how did these choices impact their lives? How did they impact others? What other choices could they have made and what might have been different if they had behaved differently? Now apply these same questions to your own life or that of someone you know. Encourage students to explore the link between behavior and consequences and how the behavioral choices one makes enable or impair their ability to change their circumstances.

Writing Billy struggles for the words to explain his feelings when asked by the panel how he feels when he is dancing. Finding the right words is often hard, particularly when you are trying to explain something emotional. Ask students to imagine they are at a college admissions interview. The representative has just asked them to describe something about which they feel passionately, be it a sport, music, art, acting, science, video games or dancing as it is for Billy. How do you feel when they achieve their best in their chosen area? What is it about their passion that makes them feel more strongly for it than anything else in their lives? How would they feel if it was taken away? What drives them to want to improve?

| 19


Life Skills Experiential

Objective

The emotional tone and volume level in our voices can greatly affect how people perceive us when we argue.

Teaching Tips Have students experiment with the scene using a variety of vocal qualities – volume, pitch, tone, rate, etc. Discuss how this affects the scene and the way the audience perceives the two characters. Extend this to a discussion of how a speaker can effectively use and control his / her voice in a spirited debate.

To Go

Objective Students will learn more about how media specialists manipulate our perceptions and emotions.

Teaching Tips What examples of political advertising did you find most effective? Which ones were least effective? Were the most effective advertisements focused on the positive or the negative? Contrast and compare specific advertisements.

20 |

Experiential Read the scene between Jackie Elliot and Mrs. Wilkinson with students, highlighting the tensions and assumptions that are made by both Jackie and Mrs. Wilkinson. (See script on page 26 of this guide.) There is history between these two characters, their relationship is already an uneasy one and Jackie must build bridges as best he can. He also requires answers, in an area about which he has no knowledge or experience. He is out of his depth. Students should also consider the issue of pride on both sides. Jackie Elliot and Mrs. Wilkinson live in a proud community and letting down their defenses is not something that either of them does easily. And yet, both of them have Billy’s interests in the forefront of their minds and as much as they would naturally love to show their tempers and shout at each other, they have to keep this particular instinct in check during this awkward conversation. Play the scene, exploring the changing dynamics and perhaps manipulating the tensions for dramatic effect and to highlight specific traits of each character. Playing around with the status of each character will also reveal fresh insights.

To Go More and more, the success or otherwise of political parties is determined not by their policies, but on how effectively they market themselves and control the information that they present to the public. This was already true, to an extent, during the miners’ strike. In fact, the National Coal Board’s lack of an effective media strategy is, according to Margaret Thatcher at least, one of the main reasons why they were unable to get their message across to the miners and stop it from being highjacked and misinterpreted by the NUM (Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years). Billy Elliot the Musical provides us with a prime example of political advertising, with the use of the Conservative billboard poster “Labour isn’t working…Britain’s better off with the Conservatives.” In their study of media messages and values, students can use this poster and other political posters like it to illustrate negative and positive advertising. The clever play on words, in this case, isn’t saying “support us because we have the best policies,” which you might expect from a political party, but rather, “support us because the opposition are so awful.” Ask students to do internet research to look at negative print and video advertisements from the recent presidential election. Consider whether this style of advertising is healthy. Does it work? Is it fair or is it simply a cynical ploy designed to confuse? What messages and values lie behind this style of advertising?


The Arts “In everything you do, always be yourself.” Trent Kowalik talks about the journey to his role as Billy Elliot.

Back in October 2005, a casting director, Heather Baird, asked an Irish dance teacher, Niall O’Leary, if he knew of any Irish dancers who should be considered as possible Billys. Niall told her to call my teacher Sean Reagan and set up an audition for me. I had seen the movie and I was quite intrigued by the idea of a musical theatre audition. In November 2005, I attended my first audition (NYC) and there I was asked to sing, dance, act and even create some of my own material. I was called back a second day and told I would be contacted. One year later, November 2006, I was brought back for a similar audition and then in June 2007, I attended a 10 day (NYC) intensive audition with just 15 boys and full days of singing, acting, dancing and acrobatics. A few weeks later I was offered the part of Billy—in London! 2. H  ow long was the rehearsal process? Who did you work with initially? At what point did you work with the main cast? How long was it before you worked on the stage at the Imperial Theatre and what was it like?

Billy’s wish to be a dancer. Think about what they say to him in the show. Has anybody reacted in the same way to you when you told your friends and family that you wanted to dance in Billy Elliot the Musical? What have people said?

If anybody has reacted negatively to either my dancing or my part in Billy Elliot the Musical, I would have to say it’s been behind my back. My family, friends and community couldn’t be more supportive. 4. C  an you describe how your schedule works? What happens about school? Friends? Family?

My morning begins with tutoring, then we have rehearsals and scenework throughout the afternoon, sometimes a bit more tutoring, and the shows 6 nights per week and 2 afternoons. For each show there is an assigned Billy and a Billy standby, so each of us Billys are in the theatre about 5 times a week doing the role or standing by. Friends visit when they can—I share an apartment here in the city with my sister who attends college. I go home to Long Island at least one day a week. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

1. C  an you describe the way in which you landed the part of Billy Elliot? How did you find out about the show? What made you audition? Where did you audition? What did you have to do at the audition? What happened after you had auditioned?

5. W  hat are the best parts about being in Billy Elliot the Musical?

In London I rehearsed with Nick Evans (acting) and Damian Jackson (ballet) amongst other coaches for three months before taking the stage on December 17, 2007. I returned to NY in June 2007, where I began rehearsing June 30 for the NY production. We worked with Stephen Daldry, Julian Webber, Peter Darling, David Chase and many others. We rehearsed scenes with various cast members. About two months after starting, we moved onto the Imperial Theatre stage and started full cast rehearsals. It was the most awesome feeling to know this was the Broadway stage where we would be performing!

The best parts about being in Billy Elliot the Musical are doing what I love and doing it for a large audience which is usually very appreciative.

3. T  he story of Billy Elliot the Musical focuses on the lack of understanding that his community have for

7. W  hat would you like school students to learn from watching Billy Elliot the Musical?

6. W  hat is the hardest thing that you’ve had to learn how to do for the show?

The hardest thing I’ve had to do is bring my ballet skills up several notches. My co-Billys, David and Kiril, are tops in our age-group for ballet and that is very inspirational!

| 21


I would like school students to learn from watching Billy Elliot the Musical, that despite all odds, if you have the desire to do something, you can do it. 8. If a student told you that they had ambitions to be in a Broadway show, what advice would you give to them?

If a student told me that they wanted to be in a Broadway show I would tell them to practice, practice, practice. Participate in school and community theatre. Check out the casting calls—and go for it!!

After Billy Elliot the Musical, I want to continue acting and keep my singing and dancing skills up. There are no specific parts I am looking to get; I just want to stay in the industry. I never had an opinion of the theatre industry before; now I’d have to say most people probably ONLY see the glamorous side of it. It is glamorous to be on Broadway and get so much media attention but it also involves a lot of personal sacrifice. The weeks are long—6 days and sometimes publicity engagements on the 7th. The days are long—9 am tutoring and 11 pm leaving the theatre.

Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

9. W  hat do you want to do when you leave the cast of Billy Elliot the Musical? Are there any other parts that you are desperate to get? What do you think about the theatre industry now that you have done Billy Elliot the Musical? Has your opinion changed? Is it as glamorous as some people think? In what ways is it glamorous and in what ways is it not?

The chances of getting to your friends’ parties and social outings are pretty slim most days.You don’t have time for a lot of family events—and even holidays are affected.You really have to love it. Fortunately, I do!!

Summary of Standards for THE ARTS Art Connections n

 nderstands connections among the various art forms U and other disciplines

Music n n

n n

n n

n

 ings, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music S Performs on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music Improvises melodies, variations and accompaniments Composes and arranges music within specified guidelines Reads and notates music Knows and applies appropriate criteria to music and music performances Understands the relationship between music history and culture

Theater n n n

 emonstrates competence in writing scripts D Uses acting skills Designs and produces informal and formal productions

22 |

n n

n

 irects scenes and productions D Understands how informal and formal theater, film, television and electronic media productions create and communicate meaning Understands the context in which theater, film, television and electronic media are performed today as well as in the past

Visual Arts n

n

n

n

n

 nderstands and applies media, techniques and U processes related to the visual arts Knows how to use the structures (e.g. sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art Knows a range of subject matter, symbols and potential ideas in the visual arts Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures Understands the characters and merits of one own artwork and the artwork of others


The Arts Discussion

Discussion

To better understand how to create a satire.

Billy Elliot the Musical has been described as a “modern fairy tale.” Ask students to explore other fairy tales that they know (for example, Snow White, The Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.), and to tell the tales using characters from Billy Elliot the Musical. In a Cinderella parody, for instance, Billy is desperate to go to the Ball (or in this case, to London for his audition), but his father and Tony, taking on the roles of the ugly sisters, will do anything to stop him. Dancing, after all, is not for lads. Luckily, Billy has a fairy godmother in the shape of Mrs. Wilkinson, who helps him to win his ultimate prize. In this version, Cinderella’s love for the handsome prince is represented by Billy’s passion for his dancing. After brainstorming other fairy tales, have students share their findings with the rest of the class.

Objective Teaching Tips List possible ideas for satiric fairy tale adaptations on the blackboard or smart board.

Writing

To write a satiric short story or one act play based on a classic fairy tale.

Teaching Tips As students work, encourage them to share the pieces aloud with their group. Students writing one act plays should assign roles and listen to their dialogue to see if the piece comes alive.

Experiential

Objective

To create a monologue describing the thrill of an imagined adventure.

Writing Divide the class into small groups. Have each group select a classic fairy tale and write a modern adaptation of it as either a short story or a one act play. They should set their stories in their own neighborhoods, using the vocabulary that they have grown up with and the experiences they have had.

Photo credit: David Scheinmann

Objective

Experiential Recently, there was a movie entitled The Bucket List. In the film, two men with terminal illnesses decide to go on a series of adventures. Think of an activity you have dreamed of doing, but have never done. Perhaps it is something you might want to do in the future. Research some specific information about the activity on the internet. Imagine you go on an adventure which encompasses this dreamed of activity. Write an extended monologue or a short story describing the adventure.

Teaching Tips Encourage writers to be in the middle of the adventure when they begin.

| 23


Billy Says Goodbye to Mrs. Wilkinson Script excerpt for activity on Page 15 of the Study Guide

Hello. Hello

MrS Wilkinson BILLY

Mrs WILKSINSON Can I help you? BILLY I just came to tell you - I got in. Oh

MRS Wilkinson

BILLY My Dad thought you should know. MRS Wilkinson It’s alright. They sent uz a letter when it happened. BILLY Miss, I know I should have come before to tell ya, but you know... MRS Wilkinson I can imagine. Toilet break, girls! Debbie, go on. BILLY Well, bye-bye Miss. And Miss, I just wanted to say thanks, Miss. For everything - what you did. I could never have done it without you, Miss.

24 |


MRS Wilkinson Yeah, well good luck then Billy. BILLY Thanks. Well, goodbye. Goodbye then.

MRS Wilkinson

BILLY I’ll miss you, Miss. MRS Wilkinson No you won’t, Billy. You’ll get down there and realise what a crap little dancing school this was. What a complete second rate training I gave you. And you’ll spend five years unlearning everything I taught you. It’s alright, it’s the way it is. BILLY No, you don’t understand, I’ll come and see you every time I come back Miss. MRS Wilkinson Here’s a piece of advice Billy. Piss off out of here. Start everything afresh and don’t look back. There’s sod all left for you here. You are very fucking special. Now piss off before I start to cry. OK

BILLY

MRS Wilkinson And good luck, Billy. BILLY Good luck as well Miss MRS Wilkinson Yeah, thanks, Billy. Mrs Wilkinson exits.

Excerpt from Billy Elliot the Musical, Book by Lee Hall.

| 25


Jackie Elliot goes to Mrs. Wilkinson’s house to ask questions about Billy’s audition Script excerpt for activity on Page 20 of the Study Guide Scene 4: Dad’s debate The scene turns to Mrs. Wilkinson’s front door. Dad hesitantly rings the doorbell. After waiting a few moments, he begins to walk away. As he goes, Mr. Wilkinson opens the door. Mr wilkinson (Kevin) What do you want. DAD I was hoping to talk to Mrs Wilkinson. Mr wILKINSON Sandra. A friend of yours. Oh hello.

Mrs Wilkinson

DaD How much is it gonna cost then. MRS Wilkinson And a merry xmas to you too. DaD I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking Mrs Wilkinson It must have come as a shock to the system. Mam!

DebbiE

MRS Wilkinson Piss off Debbie, will ya. DaD I know I shouldn’t have come.

26 |


MrS WILKSINSON Not at all. It’s Christmas time. Good will to all men and all that. Look - why don’t you come in. DAD No. I just need to know - is he good enough? For what?

MRS Wilkinson

.

Dad I don’t know. For the school. For the audition. MRS Wilkinson Well, we’ll never know, will we. Maybe he’d’ve gotten in. Maybe he’d’ve joined the Ballet Rambert. Maybe he’d end up on the scrapheap, like everybody else. How the hell do I know. DAD So there’s nowt we can do then? MRS Wilkinson Wait! Actually, if we move fast we could still get him to the auditions in London. DAD So it’s not too late then? No.

MRS Wilkinson

DAD So how much will it cost. This ballet school lark. MRS Wilkinson Maybe five grand a year. Plus living expenses. Sometimes the local authority/ pay the tuition costs. DAD (cutting her off) Five grand. I was talking about the audition. MRS Wilkinson It’s nothing. It’s twenty quid or something. DAD Five grand - we haven’t even got the money for the bus fare to London.

| 27


MrS Wilkinson If it’s just a question of the bus fare. Mam!

DeBBIE

MRS Wilkinson Piss off, Debbie, I’m busy. DaD I don’t want your money. I didn’t come here for charity. He’s my son, isn’t he? MRS Wilkinson For Christ’s sake when are you going to get over your pig ignorant working class pride? Look, your son is gifted, he’s got a chance. What have you got to offer him? Mining? This town has had it, it’s finished. You’re fighting a battle that was lost years ago. I’m not the enemy Mr Elliot; we’re all in this together. So for god’s sake just talk to me, let me help. DAD I wanna thank you for everything you’ve done for Billy. I really appreciate it. Is that it. Yup.

MRS Wilkinson DAD

MrS Wilkinson This is ridiculous. Why don’t you come inside... DaD No yer right - he’s my responsibility. Mam!

Debbie

MrS WILKSINSON Sod ya then. See if I care. MRS WILKINSON exits back into the house. Dad is left alone onstage. DAD Merry bloody Christmas. Excerpt from Billy Elliot the Musical, Book by Lee Hall.

28 |


References Adam Aguirre – Camp Broadway Director of Outreach and Workshop Operations

Camp Broadway, LLC www.campbroadway.com <http://www.campbroadway.com> 212.575.2929

The Miners’ Strike 1984-5: Loss Without Limit

Martin Adeney and John Lloyd Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd ISBN 0-7102-0694-1 The People’s Party — The History of the Labour Party

Stephen Daldry (2000) Universal Pictures DVD

Tony Wright and Matt Carter Thames and Hudson Ltd ISBN 0-500-01768-9

www.billyelliotthemusical.com

The Downing Street Years

www.billyelliot.com

Margaret Thatcher Harper Collins ISBN 0-00-255049-0

Billy Elliot

www.dancebooks.net General

www.londondance.com Dance in London

www.dramabookshop.com www.wikipedia.com — online encyclopaedia

The Miners’ Strike The Enemies Within — The Story of the Miners’ Strike 1984-85

Ian MacGregor William Collins, Sons & Co. Ltd ISBN 0-00-217706-4

Credits Written by Mark Palmer

Writers/Contributors

Head of Drama, Mill Chase Community Technology College, Borden, Hampshire

John Shorter – Camp Broadway Educational Consultant: John Shorter is Past President of the New York State Theatre Education Association (NYSTEA). For over 25 years, he was Secondary School Theater Arts Program Director and curriculum developer at Manhasset High School— a national school of excellence. In the Fall of 2007, he received the Rod Marriott Lifetime Achievement Award from NYSTEA for his contributions to educational theatre.

Dance Material by Jenny Ware

Head of Dance, The Norwood School, A Performing & Visual Arts Specialist College, London Commissioned by Mousetrap Theatre Projects Editor

Lisa Poelle – CEO of Camp Broadway: Lisa Poelle has a masters in Human Development and over 30 years in education, theatre, corporate management, marketing, community affairs and family education.

Adam Aguirre – Director of Outreach and Workshop Operations: Adam Aguirre is a graduate of Georgetown University with a degree in Government, Theatre, and Philosophy. Designer

Kathleen Giarrano — Principal/Art Director at Giarrano Design where she specializes in intuitive design solutions for print, web + illustration. www.giarranodesigncom.

| 29


Billy Elliott Study Guide