Educating Rita: Norren Kershaw (Rita) and Frank on stageRita banner

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Julie Walters as Rita

Mark Kingston and Julie Walters as Frank and Rita

Rita in Liverpool

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Educating Rita: The Film...

Educating Rita: The Story of my Life...

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Educating Rita...

The PlayRita at The Donmar

Commissioned by the RSC and directed by Mike Ockrent. First performed at the Warehouse in June 1980 and then transferred to the Piccadily Theatre in September the same year. 

It was then produced at the Liverpool Playhouse in February 1981 in a production which marked Willy Russell's first venture as a director.

The RSC production ran in the West End for two and a half years since when Educating Rita has never been out of production somewhere in the world.

"I wanted to make a play which engaged and was relevant to those who considered themselves uneducated, those whose daily language is not the language of the university or the theatre. I wanted to write a play which would attract, and be as valid for, the Ritas in the audience as the Franks." Willy Russell 
Escape Through Education
The play was inspired by Willy's experiences at evening classes. Much of the comedy arises from Rita's fresh, unschooled reaction to the classics of English literature. She is never patronised by the author, who recognises from his own experience that education is a means of escape from one's own circumstances.

University lecturer Frank needs to earn some extra money, so he agrees to tutor an Open University student. His student Rita is a brash, earthy hairdresser with a recently discovered passion for higher education, much to the dismay of her husband Denny. In her attempts to appreciate literature, Rita challenges the attitudes of a traditional university, teaching Frank to question his own understanding of his work and himself. The play explores the relationship between student and tutor.

Educating Rita is a small intimate play, but it tells a story of big ideas, ideas close to Willy Russell's heart. There is a lot of humour in the writing, but it is also a serious play, about class and choice.

SWET Awards

The Cast

Frank and Rita played by Mark Kingston & Julie Walters
Frank and Rita played by
Mark Kingston & Julie Walters