EDUCATING RITA tells the story of Rita, a young, brash hairdresser, who has recently discovered a passion for English literature and enrols with the Open University. Her fresh, unschooled reaction to the classics challenges the attitudes of the University and her lecturer Frank, who begins to question his own understanding of his work and himself.
Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the play was first performed at The Warehouse, London (now the Donmar Warehouse) in June 1980 and later transferred to the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre. The production starred Julie Walters and Mark Kingston and won the Society of West End Theatres award (the precursor to the Oliviers) for Best Comedy. Julie Walters went on to play Rita in the BAFTA award-winning film with Michael Caine as Frank.
At last night's Q&A, chaired by Whatsonstage.com editorial director Terri Paddock, Laura Dos Santos talked about being a native Liverpudlian (like Rita), her various takes this part (having also done it for radio and another version of the stage script) as well as whether she prefers Rita in her educated or uneducated state. Tim Pigott-Smith (fresh from Enron) discussed why he was so excited to have a chance to break from the norm to play a comic role, tips for drunken displays and his future Shakespeare plans.
To listen to the full recording of the Q&A, click the 'play' button below; or to subscribe and download from iTunes, click here.