What is educating rita about

9.33  ·  4,775 ratings  ·  912 reviews
what is educating rita about

Educating Rita by Willy Russell

3.5***

From the book jacket: Hairdresser Rita feels that life has passed her by. She wants an education. But does Frank have anything to teach her?

My reactions:
Yes, Frank does have something to teach Rita, but she also teaches him. I love watching Rita grow and change throughout this play. I’ve never seen the play performed, nor did I watch the movie, though I remember it being quite popular back in the early 1980s. I knew the basic premise, however and was still delighted to watch it unfold.

Rita is a marvelous character. Witty, and forthright. She does not suffer fools gladly, though at the outset she lacks confidence. She feel “less than” due to a lack of education, and envies the students on the university campus their lifestyle. Rita is not sure what she wants out of life, but she knows she wants more, and she sees education as a means to give her more options.

Frank is a perfect foe: a professor and has-been poet, who has more interest in the contents of the whiskey bottles than the contents of the books that line his office shelves, and behind which he stashes the drink. He’s cynical and has taken this special student only for the money.

But Frank sees something in Rita that sparks his interest. She’s so eager to learn, and he is forced to examine his own thoughts on books and literature and poetry and life based on her questions (and answers). He recognizes in her the spark of desire, and she kindles that spark in him. No, I don’t mean sexual desire - I mean that desire to live, to experience life fully, to learn new things, not because we need them for a job or a career, but because we simply want to live more fully. Rita isn’t certain what path she will choose, but she knows that, thanks to Frank, she now has more choices.
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Published 19.11.2018

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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 University tutor. Commissioned .
Willy Russell

Educating Rita

Rita , a working-class woman in her twenties from Liverpool, arrives at the office of Frank , a late middle-aged professor at a university. She is there to be tutored after having decided to return to school. Frank is on the phone with Julia , his younger, live-in girlfriend, saying he will be going by the pub after work but promises to be home later. He is mostly good-humored but rather weary and prone to mild bitterness and sarcasm. Rita enters, loud and brash but charming. She points out a nude painting on the wall that Frank says he never looks at anymore, jokes with him, and states her opinions on various matters straightforwardly and without guile.

Not the sort of education that would get her just a better job or more pay, but an education that would open up for her a whole new world--a liberal education. Rita wants to be a different person, and live an altogether different sort of life than she has been living so far. She enrolls in the Open University, a government program that allows non-traditional students to get the kind of higher education that used to be reserved more or less for the offspring of the upper classes, and mainly for male students at that. In the course of telling this story, the film also suggests what the ultimate purpose of a liberal education may be. The story is presented in the form of a comedy, a comedy that revolves around the personal and pedagogical relationship between Rita and her main tutor, Dr. Frank Bryant Michael Caine. Frank Bryant teaches comparative literature, and it is his job to prepare Rita for her exams.

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If only I'd been able to believe they were actually reading the books, then everything else would have fallen into place. But I didn't believe it. And so "Educating Rita," which might have been a charming human comedy, disintegrated into a forced march through a formula relationship. The movie stars Michael Caine as a British professor of literature and Julie Walters as the simple Cockney girl who comes to him for night-school lessons. She has problems: She is a working-class punk with an unimaginative husband. He has problems: He is a drunk whose only friends are cheating on him with each other. They have problems: Walters begins to idealize Caine, who then falls in love with her.

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