How does Willy Russell make the opening scene of Educating Rita dramatic and entertaining?
I am going to answer this question by using quotes from the story ‘Educating Rita’ and try to explain them as much as possible and how they affect or have an impact on the story.
The play opens as Rita meets her tutor, Dr. Frank for the first time. Frank is an unsuccessful middle-aged academic with a drinking problem who has no experience in teaching working-class students but who took on the project for the money.
In Educating Rita Willy Russell uses many dramatic devices. For example one of the devices is in the opening scene when Rita comes in suddenly and with an air of authority, Frank is shocked and unbelieving as he is used to boring, uneventful hours in the office and because of this he cant cope with a lively person barging into his office so he refers to her as a ‘breath of fresh air’. He is also astonished at her determination to learn and finds it impossible to ignore her. Also in the opening scene when Rita comes in, Frank asks her ‘you are’ she answers ‘what am I’ giving the impression that she is intrigued with the question. Then he says ‘pardon’ and she answers ‘what’. This highlights that there is a misunderstanding between Frank and Rita.
The author Willy Russell makes the opening scene entertaining and dramatic using language. Through out the first scene the characters Frank and Rita use interesting and entertaining language. One example that shows this is when Frank asks Rita ‘Do you know Yeats?’ she says ‘’the wine lodge?’’ This illustrates that and she is short on knowledge and has a lot to learn still.
... Rita wants to become educated. She enrolled into an open university and was accepted. Rita get a tutor- Frank-. This scene ... describes the first meeting between both. Frank ... if it is perverted. Scene four Rita and Frank were talking about Rita "Peer Gynt" essay. Frank wonders about its shortage. ...
Another example is when Frank says ‘’you are’’ implying what her name was. She replied ‘’who am I’’ as if she didn’t understand. This highlights the difference between their attitudes to their lives. She is lively and animated, anxious to change her life and will do anything to gain knowledge and he is dull and depressed and is stuck all day in a room with a closed window and a door that doesn’t open properly. This has a big impact as the above words indicate how far Frank and Rita’s worlds are and Frank knows he has to work very hard to get her to a level where she can learn by herself.
There are many other dramatic devices used. One of them is juxtaposition. This occurs between the two main characters. In scene 1 Willy Russell confuses the audience by telling them one thing then changing it quickly to another thing. For example when frank says ‘you are?’ Rita answers ‘what am I? as if she doesn’t know what he is talking about. This illustrates that Frank is of middle class and Rita is of working class. This also shows the class antagonism that pressures Rita, through the language misunderstandings between Frank and Rita. In the opening scene Rita comes in the office door and dumps her bag in the chair which sends out the message that she is determined to learn and won’t leave until Frank accepts her as his student.
Another example is when Rita is presented to the audience as very common and working class individual. This is showed mainly through her attitude when she enters the scene. She strolls into the room without a care in the world and in numerous occasions she uses foul language. Rita also comes across as a down to earth character with her very strong scouse (Liverpool) accent. She comes across as working class in different occasions one being at the start, with her first impression. You could know this because she conveys her social setting in her speech, being very direct and straightforward. An example is when
... play before Frank has actually met Rita he has already failed her in his mind purely because of the fact she is a working class ... her answer, "do it on the radio" angers Frank but amuses the audience because Rita is so na " ive. It criticises the university ... because as Frank explains, "an academic essay is a game ...
The characters Frank and Rita are very different to each other, for example Rita is illustrated as nervous and ill at ease, immediately her language makes her an attractive character to the audience. I’m comin in aren’t I? This suggests she is nervous but tries to hide it by saying it’s that stupid handle on the door? And this shows that Rita is honest and cocky because she is saying something that’s true but does it in a way to hide the fact that she is nervous also gives the audience the impression that she is cocky and witty. Also the door is being symbolised as a barrier to the academic world and she is pushing it open to discover a world that she does not no anything about.
And Frank is a totally different character to Rita as he is described as a big alcoholic, who hates his job. Many quotes prove this such as ‘ they expect us to teach when the pubs are open’ ‘ You go out and buy yourself a new dress and I’ll go to the pub’ Both these quotes show franks comfort zone is when he is in the pub or drinking whisky from a hidden bottle in his office. When Rita comes to frank, Frank doesn’t want to teach her, as he see’s her as a knowledge hungry student. He thinks Rita deserves a better tutor. Many quotes prove this; ‘There are other tutors- I’ll arrange it for you’ when Rita tells frank she wants to know “every thing”. Frank responds by saying “I’ll make a bargain with you. He seems to be cut off from ‘real’ life, unlike Rita, who is a very practical woman.
In conclusion I would say that Educating Rita is a very good play and you can understand the difference between working class and middle class and the play is a very good example of working out the difference between different classes. In his play “Educating Rita”, Russell engages his audience on several different levels. I was engaged most by the themes and emerging ideas of the play, which in themselves consist of many engaging elements. The play can be seen as a social commentary, a tale filled to the brim with irony, a comedy or a study of personal change. Each of these themes can be engaging to Russell’s audience, as each casts new light on what “Educating Rita” really is. This may be the reason for the play’s popularity, as these themes provide a play which caters to people’s varied tastes
The Essay on Explain how you would perform the role of Ismene in her first appearance in the play to engage the sympathy of the audience
... and hurt and shocked all at once, mirroring how the audience would have reacted to such an unexpected line. Also when ... Antigone) who is quite business-like and appears to the audience as if she can handle herself. The first signs ... she has developed a little fat around her stomach. The play would be set in a fictional place and as such ... In order to engage sympathy I would perform Ismene as a 30 – 40 ...