Willy Russell's Educating Rita
The play is in a naturalistic setting. The whole play takes place
inside one room, namely Frank’s office; a book-lined study in a
university in northern England. And by adhering to the unity of place
Willy Russell is not just able to concentrate on the drama, but also
the humour of the play. The play is set in year it was written, 1985.
The play itself is structured into two Acts. The first act deals with
Rita beginning her search and her education, trying desperately to fit
into Frank’s world. Frank is the teacher, the one with all the
knowledge. He’s always saying the right words. Rita looks up to Frank.
Whereas on the other hand you have his opposite, Rita, who is
uneducated, loud, out spoken and common. Rita breezes into Frank’s
life like a breath of fresh air. The story of the play is that of the
developing and changing relationship between the two of them both as
teacher and student and also on a more personal level. During the play
the character of Rita is completely transformed. And this needs to be
shown through the way the actors play their characters and the way
they interact on the stage.
In the beginning she struggles greatly with her language skills, only
managing to develop the necessary skills after her success at the
summer school, to succeed in the second act.
As the first act experiences the breakdown of Rita’s marriage with
Denny; the second half of the play shows evidence of a strong rift
between Frank and his partner Julia.
The first point at which the audience comes face to face with the
characters is Act 1 Scene 1. This scene is important because it
introduces the characters to the readers and gives a good idea of the
plot to follow. It helps you establish some information about the
characters past, before they met. This in turn helps the audience to
get to know the characters. The audience sees Rita in this scene as a
very chatty person. She is open, quite common and tarty and not well
spoken. She also still very much uneducated unlike those around her,
like Frank and the other students. She doesn’t seem to fit in well
with her surroundings, causing her to seem out of place.
An actress playing Rita would need to be witty, confident and have
good background knowledge of the play and Rita in particular. They
would need to be able to keep up a strong Liverpudlian accent and act
uneducated even if they were very smart themselves. They need to be
able to adapt to the role and how it changes throughout the play. I
would suggest that the actress playing Rita wears ‘tarty’ ‘cheap’
clothes. Bright colours would also help in this scene because she
needs to give a strong lasting first image of Rita. She will need to
use a lot of slang, simplistic, and colloquial language when playing
Rita. The actress’ movements and...