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How would you stage and direct Act One Scene One of 'Educating Rita' for maximum dramatic impact?

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Introduction

Alex Coates 10.3.2002 There are two major difficulties in staging the play 'Educating Rita' - one is the problem of there being just two characters - Frank and Rita - and the other is that the play is set in one room throughout (Frank's office). In this essay I will try to resolve these by showing how I would like Act One Scene One performed. Although Frank's office would be rectangular in a film, it must lose its front wall for us to be able to see inside when put on stage. The side walls must also be opened out to allow the whole audience to see most of the set. Because a lot of the action takes place around Frank's desk, it will have to be fairly central and towards the front of the set. The desk will be just right of centre, and tilted at a slight angle towards the left side of the set. This will allow the audience to see Frank's face and what he's doing. Having the desk at an angle will also let the audience see Rita when she sits opposite the desk. This will overcome the problem of the audience not being able to see the characters talk. There will be an overloaded desk tidy on Frank's desk, full of essays and unopened letters - symbolizing that he doesn't really care about his work, and doesn't get on with it. ...read more.

Middle

To further emphasise this, he will have an image of Homer Simpson drinking a can of beer on his tie. This will also represent him being an alcoholic, and his tie will be loose and scruffy at the top. His shoes will be leather and fairly smart in comparison with the rest of his clothes. Rita's clothes will not be particularly nice, as this is implied to us in Act One Scene Two when she said, "Look at the state of this." She will wear a cheap, sky blue women's t-shirt and some dark blue, sporty trousers. She will also wear a thin, pink cardigan. However, because Rita is a hairdresser in Act One, her hair will be in a blond, fashionable style. Her appearance will show that she is working class, but will also show she has the ability to change, as her hair looks good. I will now pick out some key moments from Act One, and explain how I would direct them. When Rita entered Frank's office for the first time, she said, "I'm coming in aren't I? It's that stupid bleedin' handle on the door. You wanna get it fixed!" By talking like this, Rita is showing her working class background. She uses slang, and is far too familiar with Frank. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her change in behaviour would be very apparent in Act Two, as she speaks in a much more polite manner, and has stopped smoking Frank's alcohol will begin the play hidden in a cupboard, and will gradually become more obvious as the play goes on. Late in the play, Frank will have a definite slur in his voice, and his whisky will be out on his desk. I will also make his alcoholism more apparent by gradually changing his appearance to become scruffier, and by making his office untidier. His alcohol represents his life deteriorating, as he loses his partner and his job after going to alcohol. The audience would now be able to appreciate that the habits are symbolic of their characters, implying smoking and alcoholism may prevent people from doing things. The two difficulties in staging this play are that there is only one set, and that there are just two characters. I have resolved the first difficulty by ensuring the set shows Frank as middle class, and that it is about education as it is in a university. I have resolved the problem of there being only two characters by getting my stars to show what's happening properly, and show the symbolism of their habits. I feel that by doing this, I will have allowed the audience to enjoy the play to the maximum level possible. 1,722 words ...read more.

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