Theatre: Educating Rita

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Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from May 9 to 12

A new production of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita is on at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre this week.

The show is the first co-production from The Dukes, Lancaster, and the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme, both theatres-in-the-round.

Educating Rita is part of Dukes artistic director Sarah Punshon’s first spring season at the theatre.

Sarah had a personal reason for choosing the play about a Liverpool hairdresser who seeks to educate herself through the Open University, as both she and her mother went to university in the same year, her mum returning to education after leaving school aged 15.

“This year is all about celebrating the emancipation of women and Rita’s story reflects that,” said Sarah.

“It also felt like the ideal show for me to direct in my first spring season at The Dukes because it’s a play about someone who changes their life through the arts and that’s what we do here.”

Educating Rita is a witty exploration of class, privilege and the power of literature, written by Liverpool playwright Willy Russell, himself a former hairdresser.

Eager to escape the trivial conversations at work, Rita, Lauryn Redding, enrols on an OU course and meets tutor Frank, Andrew Pollard, a frustrated poet, tutor and borderline alcoholic.

He attempts to guide her on a journey of self-discovery and learning. Rita challenges the stereotypes of the class and education system, confounding everyone’s expectations .

LEducating Rita is a witty exploration of class, privilege and the power of literature, written Liverpool playwright Willy Russell, himself a former hairdresser.

Lauryn has just finished playing Darby McGraw in Treasure Island at the New Vic and Andrew recently completed a seven-month national tour playing Phileas Fogg in the New Vic, Kenny Wax Family Entertainment and Simon Friend co-production of

Around The World In Eighty Days.

The pair last appeared together in the 2016 New Vic production of Peter Pan In Scarlet.

Educating Rita started life as a play. Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Educating Rita premièred at The Warehouse, London, in June 1980 starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston.

The play was a two-hander and was directed by Mike Ockrent.

It was turned into a film in 1983 with Walters reprising her role as Rita.

It was directed by Lewis Gilbert with a screenplay by Russell based on his stage play.

The film also stars Michael Caine as Frank and Maureen Lipman. It won multiple major awards for best actor and best actress

and was nominated for three Oscars.

Caine and Walters both won BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for best actor and actress. The British Film Institute ranked Educating Rita the 84th greatest British film of the 20th century.

Educating Rita is on Thursday May 10 at 1.30pm and 7pm, Friday May 11 at 7.30pm, and Saturday May 12 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets: 01723 370541 or on line at: www.sjt.uk.com