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Educating Rita is a stage comedy by British playwright Willy Russell. It is a play for two actors set entirely in the office of an Open Universitymarker lecturer.

Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Educating Rita premièred at The Warehousemarker, Londonmarker, in June 1980 starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston. The play was directed by Mike Ockrent.

Plot summary

The play follows the relationship between a young Liverpudlianmarker working-class hairdresser and Dr. Frank Bryant, a middle-aged University lecturer, during the course of a semester.

Susan(who initially calls herself Rita), dissatisfied with the routine of her work and social life, seeks inner growth by signing up for and attending an Open Universitymarker course in English. The play opens as 'Rita' meets her tutor, Frank for the first time. Dr Frank Bryant is a middle-aged, alcoholic career academic who has taken on the tutorship to pay for his drink. The two have an immediate and profound effect on one another; Frank is impressed by Susan's verve and earnestness and is forced to re-examine his attitudes and position in life; Susan finds Frank's tuition opens doors to a bohemian lifestyle and a new self-confidence. However, Frank's bitterness and cynicism return as he notices Susan beginning to adopt the pretentions of the University culture he despises. Susan becomes disillusioned by a friend's attempted suicide and realizes that her new social niche is rife with the same dishonesty and superficiality she had previously sought to escape. The play ends as Frank, sent to Australia on a sabbatical, welcomes the possibilities of the change.

Themes

The play deals with the concept of freedom, change, England's class system, the shortcomings of institutional education, and the nature of self-development and of personal relationships. The play borrows from the classic myth Pygmalion.

Film adaptation

The play was adapted by Russell for a 1983 film with Michael Caine, and Julie Walters directed by Lewis Gilbert.

Radio adaptation

The play was adapted by Russell for radio in 2009. It starred Bill Nighy and Laura Dos Santos and was a 90 minute play, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Boxing day 2009.

See also



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