Educating Rita- How Does Russell Make The Opening Dramatic and Entertaining?

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English Coursework

Educating Rita- How Does Russell Make The Opening Dramatic and Entertaining?

For the opening of educating Rita, Russell needs to entertain and interest his audience, however, he also needs to quickly introduce his characters: Frank, a university teacher in his early fifties, bored with his life and Rita, a badly educated hairdresser with a thirst for knowledge.

Russell begins "Educating Rita" with Frank searching frantically in his bookcase, muttering the names of famous authors under his breath as he searches for what the audience imagines to be a book. However, to our surprise, Frank jubilantly pulls out a bottle of Whisky and pours himself a drink. This tells us that Frank, perhaps has a drinking problem. Russell then uses the interesting medium of a one sided telephone conversation between Frank and his partner Julia. This entertains the audience as they are wondering what the person on the other end of the line is saying. We become more accustomed to Frank's character. The telephone conversation is also humorous : "Darling, you could incinerate ratatouille and still it wouldn't burn" and " What do you mean am I determined to go to pub? I don't need determination to get me into a pub". Frank clearly isn’t hiding the fact that he drinks a lot.(shows its been going on for a while as Julia knows). He then pours some whisky into a mug, this suggests he wants to his alcoholism from his students or people who maybe be visiting him at work.. Plus Frank shouldn’t be drinking in a University as it is, with students to teach. This shows that Frank is not particularly responsible, we learn more  about this throughout the play.

We also learn that Frank is in a marriage that he does not want to be in. This is shown from the telephone call from his wife,(above).Frank is very patronising towards Rita and talks to her as if he is better than her. The portrayal  Frank gives of himself in the opening scenes is not a particularly good one, he would rather go the pub than go home to his loving wife who has cooked up dinner for her husband  or as Rita would say tea) “just leave it in the oven just a couple of pints... four”. Any loving husband would rush home to his wife and enjoy the pleasure of her company. Frank however desperately tries to avoid the situation. During the conversation Frank mentions some harsh point about the Open University such as “ Because, I’ve got this OU woman coming haven’t I”. He addresses Rita as a woman whereas if it was a “proper” University he would have called Rita a student. Its like Frank believes OU students don’t want to study or just can’t.

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Then we learn how Frank is isolated. When Rita arrives for her tutorial. The door to Franks office is damaged and makes it very hard for anyone to get in, hence isolated

Rita's entrance in the scene is a critical moment. She knocks twice on the door although Frank yells at her to come in. Eventually she bursts into the room swearing and using common language (this contrasts with Franks very upper class English)
" I'm comin' in, aren't I? It's that stupid bleedin' door. You wanna get it fixed!".

The stage directions at this point in the scene give us ...

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