The Making of Elizabeth
My Fair Lady meets Ladette to Lady!
Lizzie may be from Rooty Hill but she has dreams of designing for the fashion industry. Her ticket there just might be that well known voice coach to the stars – Henry Harrison. Can Lizzie make the change without losing her fire? Can Harrison get to the end without strangling her? And who is really teaching who?
This is a new adaption of George Bernard Shaw’s beloved comic classic - Pygmalion. Transported to contemporary Sydney, Lizzie from the western suburbs wants out of a life she seems predestined to live. On the other side of town, the brilliant young voice coach to the stars, Henry Harrison, lives his self indulgent life. When an old friend makes a bet he just cannot refuse, Henry sets on a collision course with the feisty Lizzie. And everyone’s life will be changed.
Lizzie: I wanna design accessories for fashion.
Pickering: I shouldn’t think the way you speak would be a barrier to that. I have heard some of these designers speak and they are almost unintelligible Sometimes I think they do it on purpose, like a badge or something and honestly it’s just ...
Lizzie:Yeah yeah yeah, that’s all right if ya know the industry from the inside. Ya know, if ya got contacts or sumthink. But I don’t. It’s all right if you graduate from one of those colleges but I ain’t got the money to go to any of ‘em. And where I come from, they think it’s stupid, wantin’ to be a designer. I’m supposed to be happy just workin’ for Maccas. But I know I can do better’n that. So I gotta make contacts. I need to get a job at one of the big fashion shops. Like Dior. Or Versace. Only they won’t take me cos I don’t speak right for the customers. Or with a French or Italian accent. He can teach me. (silence)
Harrison: How much?
Harrison: How much are you willing to pay?
Lizzie: Oh I got it worked out. I got on the net and looked it up. The French school charges $300 for one lesson week in a course. And it goes for like 10 weeks. But they got like 20 people in a class. So I figure I’d pay the same for private lessons as you wouldn’t have the guts to charge me for teaching me me own language. So $30 an hour seems fair.
Harrison: (Thinking, then slowly) You know, if you consider $30 as a percentage of the girl’s income, which couldn’t be more than say .. $300 a week, it works out as the best offer I have ever had in my life.
Pickering: How’s that?
Harrison: A top actor gets maybe 20 million for a film over a twenty week period. Call it a million a week. Now I get anything between 600 and 1000 an hour. As a proportion of their film pay it is nothing and sometimes the studios pay it. Or it is tax deductible. She offers me 10% of her weekly wage. One tenth of star’s salary would be ... a hundred thousand dollars! It is magnificent!
Lizzie: (jumping up) A hundred fousand fuckin’ dollars! What the fuck are you talkin’ about? I never said...
Harrison: (becoming carried away) Oh do shut up!
Lizzie: Quit tellin’ me to shut up!
Harrison: Typical woman. Hysterical reaction.
Lizzie: I ain’t hysterical and yer a bully.
Harrison:If I decide to teach you I’ll be worse than a bully.
Pickering: Harry, I’m interested. I’ve got an idea ... a Svengali experiment. How about a little bet?
Harrison: Another of your little games, Pick?
Pickering: Maybe. What do you think? You teach this girl to be a ... lady. You change her speech and appearance so she could work as a PA to ... a Princess if she wanted. What about the Black and White ball? Hang on! Hang on! The G20 Summit Ball at Kirribilli! I’ll bet you the expenses of the experiment that you can’t pull it off. I’ll even pay for the lessons.
Lizzie: Pay? For me lessons? Why wouldja do that? What’s innit for you?
Harrison: It’s very tempting. The raw material is so disgusting.
Lizzie:(picking her nose)I ain’t disgusting!
Lizzie: (uneasy) What exactly do youse guys want? I mean, I just wanna get some lessons. Nuffin else. I’m not a slut or anyfing, just cos I look like a westie. I don’t wear those horrible dresses ‘n’ shoes they wear, always gettin’ drunk and puttin it out for the blokes at the pub ...
Harrison: (excited at the idea) What a challenge! You know, I was feeling somewhat bored. This will liven things up! I will transform this horrible thing!
Lizzie: Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-ow. Shut up!
Harrison: (carried away) Yes: in four weeks - less, if she has a good ear - I’ll take her anywhere and pass her off as anything. We’ll start today.
Lizzie: Hang on, I can’t just ...
Harrison: I’ll need to see her for at least four hours a day! And six days a week. More, really.
Lizzie: Are you gonna listen’ to me? I gotta work, pay my own ...
Harrison: Of course, if we could just immerse her in the culture it would be better. Constant access to her mind!
Lizzie: You ain’t listen’! I have to pay me bit of the rent of the room I share. And food; a girl’s gotta eat and there’s the cost of gettin’ here ...
Pickering: She has a point. Look, I didn’t mean …
Harrison: She can move in here! (a moment of stunned silence)
Lizzie & Pickering: What!
Pickering: Harry I ...No! This is getting out of hand! I did not mean for you to ..
Harrison: Why not? She hasn’t got a place of her own and this way we’ll be able to follow the process. If we have her here we can work on her all the time. Unlimited access!
Lizzie: You want me to move in? You’re mad. I’m gonna call the cops.
Harrison: And tell them what?
Lizzie: Whoa! whoa! What have you been sniffin’? I just wanted speech lessons and you’re trying to set me up as a ... what? You wanna get it clear that I don’t screw around. And I ain’t about to sell myself for lessons.
Harrison: As if I would touch you.
Lizzie: Are youse two poofters or summin?
Harrison: What! No! (looks at PICKERING)
Pickering: No!. No.
Lizzie: Wot’s wrong wiv me then?
Harrison: You smell, for starters.
Lizzie: Ohhhhh! I don’t smell! How dare you! (she turns away to smell herself)
Pickering: Harry, I know I issued a challenge but there are some considerations. We can’ just take her and transplant her here.
Harrison: Why not?
Pickering: She’ll have a life. Friends. Family.
Lizzie: No family. That I speak to anyway. Nobody really gives a rat’s what happens to me. Me Dad fucked orf and me mum’s always got a new bloke.
Harrison: See, nobody wants her. Come on ... Lizzie, isn’t it? Take a challenge. Take a risk. You’re up for it or you wouldn’t have come here today looking for lessons.
Lizzie: Yeah, lessons. Not this other bullshit. Youse two are nuts.
Harrison: This is your chance to make a success of your dirty useless life.
Pickering: Harry, think of her feelings.
Harrison: Feelings? She hasn’t got any that we need worry about. Have you?
Lizzie: I got feelings same as anyone.