Educating Rita

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How does the opening scene of ‘Educating Rita’ prepare the audience for the rest of the play?

Willy Russell; the author of educating Rita was born in Whinston which is just outside Liverpool. When he was at five years old he moved to Knowsley. He went to a school just down the road from his Grandmas grocer. He took gardening up as a hobby and played football regularly. At eleven years old he went to a secondary school in Huyton. Then a year later he moved to Rainford School, when he was there he started reading and a few weeks later he decided he wanted to become a writer. He realised he had left it to late to catch up with all his school work. So he enrolled in an o-level English course and got a job as a hairdresser to pay for his college fees. Russell is similar to the character Rita in many ways, Rita is a ladies hairdresser, who longs for a more fulfilling life and wishes to become Educated in literature (as did Russell) they both also come from a middle class background, and are both faced with the same dilemmas in life.

The main theme in the play is personal relationships; it focuses on how Frank and Rita influence each other. At the start of the play Rita is cocky, unnerved and knows nothing about literature, but as the play develops; she turns into a confident young women, who can make her own wise choices. Frank doesn’t develop much, so he is disillusioned at the start and from there on he just goes down hill.

There is one main scene setting in Educating Rita which is Frank’s office in the Open University. This is the main setting for the play. The play is set in 1985, the year it was written.

The play Educating Rita, written by Willy Russell, explores how Rita, the main character, is educated; she is a very outspoken, quite confident, confused, naïve young woman, who is trapped by her working class job as a hairdresser (a very stereotypical job for a working class woman in the 80’s). She sees education as a way of getting a better life and bettering herself as a person, instead of her mother who never “sang a different song”, and she looks at her possibilities and tries to get an education. Rita goes to an Open University to study English; the Open University was created for people to get a degree by doing most of your work at home or online.

Frank is a lecturer at the Open University that Rita goes to, he appears to be middle classed because of his life style, he doesn’t respect his partner Julia, because in act 1 scene 1, he is on the phone to her and she has cooked him a meal and he says “yes that’s it, you just pop off and put you’re head in the oven”, so he can go to the pub after he finishes work instead of going home. As the play develops, he is sent to Australia by the college because of his drunken behaviour at the Open University. The phone is again used at the end by frank to ring Rita, “I’ve entered her for her examination… yes you see she doesn’t know the details… time and where the exam is being held… could you tell her to call in?...please…yes…thank you.” this shows that Frank cares about Rita, because he entered her into an exam, he wants her to have what she wants, an education. The phone is an effective stage device.

They are both quite upfront, at the start of the play, Act 1, scene 1, she notices the religious naked picture on the wall in Franks room. She says “there’s no suppose about it. Look at those tits. Is it meant to be erotic? I mean when he painted it, do y’ think he wanted to turn people on?” This shows Rita is very upfront, she is quite rude too, but this shows she is testing Frank to see if he will accept her real personality. Rita also asks Frank lots of questions, She is extremely keen to learn, and wants to know everything. Questions such as “y’ don’t paint pictures like that just so that people can admire the brush strokes, do y’?” or “but in those days they had to pretend it wasn’t erotic so they made it religious didn’t they?” and “that’s no good always...
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