“Educating Rita” is a play written by Willy Russell who was born in Whiston, which is just outside Liverpool. The play “Educating Rita” is set in Northern England in about 1985. It is about a hairdresser called Rita who starts to go to an Open University and her tutor named Frank. The University was founded in the 1960s as a way of enabling adult students, like Rita, who had never had the chance to go to university at the age of eighteen, to study for a degree without having to leave home. Frank, Rita’s tutor, has a job at the university, but does some part-time work teaching Open University students.
All the action occurs in this study but important events do occur offstage. There has been a film made to go with the play staring Michael Caine and Julia Walters. It is known for being funny, witty and very entertaining. I think that the audience will respond to Rita in many ways during the play “Educating Rita”. I think that the audience’s view of Rita will change throughout the play. Some of the audience’s views of Rita will change negatively and some will change positively. At the start of the play Rita literally bursts through the door and tells Frank off for not ”getting the door fixed” and for always meaning to do so … ut not actually doing it.
She immediately gains the audiences interest because of what she does and says. Rita is observant because she refers to the nude painting on the wall, which Frank says he hasn’t looked at for ”about ten years”. Rita is blunt and speaks her mind. She refers to the nude painting on the wall as being, ”very erotic … look at those tits”. Rita talks a lot at the beginning. She says ”I know I talk a lot”. The audience may think this is because she is nervous. Rita also puts herself down a lot regarding her academic abilities. Rita tells Frank, ”it’ll probably have a job findin’ my brain”.
She also refers to giving up the course, even though this is her first session. I think this may make the audience feel a bit of sympathy towards Rita. During the scene the audience finds out that she has changed her name from Susan to Rita, ”I’ve changed it to Rita I’m not a Susan anymore”. This maybe for a variety of reasons; perhaps she thinks by changing her name she will become a totally new person and that she can leave the past behind. This may make the audience feel that Rita is quite a mysterious character. In the next scene Rita returns for a tutorial and hands in her first piece of work on Rubyfruit Jungle.
Frank finds it unsatisfactory. The audience may feel sympathy towards Rita because Frank maybe being too harsh for Rita second tutorial. A bit later in the Act, Rita is trying to find out everything she can about Frank. ”Are you married? ” is just one of the questions that Rita asks Frank. The audience may react to this negatively because Rita is being very rude and nosey but the audience may also just think that Rita just wants to get to know Frank. Also Rita doesn’t see herself as a ‘proper’, student, this shows the audience that she is not so arrogant and doesn’t think highly of herself.
The audience is likely to feel quite sorry towards Rita at the end of Act 1 Scene3. This is because Rita is trying very hard to get the course right but it just doesn’t seem good enough. ”It’ll be your hard luck when he fails your paper” says Frank to Rita during the scene. Frank is being a little too harsh towards Rita maybe because his personal life isn’t going well. At the end of Act 1 Scene 4 I think the audience will feel very sorry and sympathetic towards Rita. I think this because you find out during the scene that Rita does her work while she is working at the hairdressers.
This shows the audience that she either doesn’t have the time to do her work or she is hiding the work from someone. As the play progresses the audience continues to see Rita develop. Indeed, I think that Rita gains more confidence in her own ability as the play goes on. I think that in Scene 5 Rita shows the audience that she is very determined. Frank wants to go down the pub while Rita just wants to learn. ”I’ve got to do this Frank. I’ve got to. I want to talk about Chekhov”, Rita insists. This shows the audience that she is desperate to learn. I think the audience will be very pleased with her attitude towards the work.
I think the audience will also feel great sympathy towards Rita in Scene 5 because the audience finds out that Rita is having a hard time at home because Denny, her husband has burnt her books. This means Rita is not receiving any support at home. This also shows the audience that Rita is very strong minded to continue the course no matter what it costs her. Rita also during this scene tries to find a bit more about Frank but it is not very successful. I think that the audience will deeply admire Rita’s honesty mostly because Rita always speaks her mind. ”Oh y’an awful snob aren’t y’? ‘ says Rita to Frank at the end of the scene.
Rita always speaks her mind and never holds anything back. At the end of the scene Rita is so desperate to learn, and complete the course, that she even goes to the theatre to see a play for the first time. This shows the audience again that she is really committed to this work by going to the theatre in her own time. During Act 1 Scene 6 Rita continues to develop and get better. In the last scene she went to see Macbeth at the theatre and now she know gives her opinions on it. ” It was bleedin’ great, honest” says Rita at the start of the scene.
Rita seems to be enjoying the work even though she is still having a hard time a home. Frank explains to Rita what a tragedy is and then Rita proposes a visit to an art gallery. And then Frank asks Rita if her and Denny will come to his house for a dinner party. I think the audience would feel immense sympathy towards Rita because Frank has invited her and Frank to his house for a dinner party. This will put immense pressure on Rita whether to go or not. In the last two scenes of the Act (Act 1 Sene7 and 8) we see a number of important decisions that Rita has to make which will determine her future.
Rita didn’t go to Frank’s house party because she had a big fight with Denny and this starts a big conversation with Frank. Instead of going to Frank’s house party Rita went to the pub with her family, they are all singing but after a while Rita’s mother starts to cry. ” I looked around me mother had stopped singin’, an’ she was cryin’ but no one could get it out of her why she was cryin’ ”. This shows that Rita mother is not happy with her life of going to pubs. Rita seems to sense this and doesn’t want to continue her life as it is going with Denny.
Denny gives Rita an ultimatum of stop taking the pill and have a baby or to get out all together. Rita chooses to leave Denny and continue her education. This shows the audience that she is extremely determined and very strong to continue without her husband. The audience will respond to this very positively because she has chosen to sacrifice her husband to continue her education. From Act 2 Scene 1 we quickly realize that significant changes have taken place in Rita life since we last saw her. She has been to summer school and now lives in a flat with a friend called Trish.
It is the changes in her character that are perhaps the most startling. When Rita comes back from summer school she is a changed women. She seems to appreciate everything more and she has also become more confident and assertive. I think Trish has changed her a lot. Rita is now more independent than of what she used to be. I think the audience now realizes that Rita is a clever person but she is maybe trying to be someone that she isn’t. In Act 2 Scene 2 and 3 we see further developments in Rita’s character because she can now discuss literature confidently with the students that she meets on the lawn inside the University. ‘
I couldn’t help overhearin’ the rubbish you were spoutin’ about Lawrence”. This shows the audience that Rita is now confident enough to discuss literature with people that she doesn’t even know. It seems to be Rita independence of mind has changed greatly. She argues with Frank about one of Blake’s poems. ” In one sense, like the poem about a rose, isn’t it? ” Rita argues to Frank. Rita may not of been able to do this before she had been to summer school or met Trish. I think that Rita greatly looks up to Trish because she is always talking about Trish.
It is always Trish this and Trish that. ”Trish, me flat mate, Trish”, Rita says to Frank. I don’t think that the audience will react positively because to Rita during this scene because I think she is trying to be someone that she isn’t and she is being a show off. Act 2 Scene 4 and 5 Frank and Rita’s relationship is under scrutiny because conflict between these two characters occurs. They argue about one of Frank’s poems that Rita likes but Frank doesn’t. During this argument Rita accuses Frank of not being able to accept that she has changed for the better since he first met her.
In these scenes the two characters seem to be drifting apart and about to move in separate directions. At the end of the play Frank and Rita are about to embark on new stages in their lives. Frank is preparing to leave for Australia after having upset the university authorities while Rita has passed her exams and is facing a number of choices. The importance of this is however is that Rita is now able to take charge of her own life and to make informed decisions for herself. The play ends on a very high note as Rita cuts Franks hair.
She says ”I’m gonna take ten years off you… ” This is good to see because they could of ended on bad terms rather than on good ones. At the beginning Frank laughs at the idea of Rita reforming him. Frank does not want to watch Rita leave him in “appalling sobriety” as he admits to her being his only source of influence. Frank’s drinking problems finally get him a sentence to Australia for two years this seems to be an equivalent of being ‘fired’. Throughout the play Rita’s influence over Frank has been a source of both positive and negative occurrences.
When Frank and Rita are on good terms, Rita’s influence sways towards a positive effect, however when Rita’s and Frank’s ideas differ, that same source of constructive advice is flipped and becomes an excuse to ruin circumstances to such a degree that they are worse off than before. Even after Denny has burnt her books Rita is not angry at Denny, she just calls him “Y’ soft get”. And says, “There’s no point cryin’ over spilt milk”. But she is determined to live the life that she wants to. In the end, she leaves Denny because he gave her an ultimatum to stop the studying or leave, Rita chose her education.
Rita worked as a hairdresser, but she got bored with all the conversation “It does my head in”. “The conversation is dead boring”. She also quite her work because there are no progression. When she was cutting peoples hair, she knew there was more to life and that she wanted to learn. After beginning to study, one day she talked to a customer about ‘Peer Gynt’ and found that she enjoyed that type of conversation. So she left and went to work in a bistro where she believed she could have this type of conversation all the time.
To Denny Rita is having an affair with education; this is having the same effect as it would if she had an affair with another man. Rita: “you’d think I was havin’ a bloody affair” Frank: “Aren’t you” Denny tries everything in his power to get the old Rita back he tires buying presents but knows in the back of his mind he is losing to education. “He’s wonderin’ where the girl he marries has gone to” Denny doesn’t understand Rita’s need for choice he think of choice as choosing between lagers in a pub. Rita’s educational development is too unnerving for Denny “he’d packed me case”.
Denny feels like Rita has betrayed him and Rita admits to it. “He said I’d betrayed him. I suppose I have” Rita’s development also has some serious effects on Frank. Frank doesn’t really like himself too much and says he is an “appalling teacher”. He also used to be a poet himself but says he stopped “For the good of poetry” Frank really has some liking for Rita. This is clearly displayed when he refers to her as “The first breath of fresh air” that’s been in his room for years. He is often seen flirting with Rita. Telling her there are “a thousand things” he’d “rather do than teach” most of which are with her.
Although Frank is teaching Rita, Rita manages to help Frank reinvent his teaching skills as he customizes them to suit her. Despite Franks feeling for Rita he does something extremely thoughtless at one point when he invites her to his house. She isn’t yet at the stage where she would comfortably fit in. Frank failed to look at it from Rita’s point of view. Along the way Frank and Rita learn a lot more from each other. Frank learns is that education can ‘quash’ a person. He realizes or thinks that if Rita is successful in ‘learning everything’ (which is what she wanted in the beginning) then it will spoil what is so special about Rita.
For instance the way she just comes out with things, says what is exactly on her mind, she will start to say less about what she thinks, try and make it into a ‘more posh’ point of view. Frank may even be scared that Rita will become a ‘literary snob’ like he was in the beginning. The audience grows to love Rita throughout the play just for being herself but she changes from going to summer school and through meeting Trish. Overall at the end of the play I think the audience will still love Rita even though she has changed maybe for the worse.