Can I alter the adult language in Billy Elliot?

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Staff Answer
November 10, 2015

Please see the letter from author Lee Hall below. 

The language in Billy Elliot reflects a very specific culture and moment in time. Swearing in the play is often used to capture certain ‘rhythms’ and informality of speech and is not meant to specifically cause offence. It is firmly in a British tradition which allows more robust language into its drama. I am aware that certain producers/ audiences may have problems with specific words and am happy if you wish to substitute less provocative words or phrases. I think this is best done by the individuals involved who know their audiences better than me. However I would urge you to find alternatives which respect the robust atmosphere and culture within which the musical is set. The language in Billy Elliot is used to balance the potential that the show could become too sentimental. The power of the piece is in the contrast between the roughness and the delicacy. It’s always a fine balance to achieve and you should be very attentive to it.” -Lee Hall, Book & Lyrics, Billy Elliot the Musical