Educating Rita is in the Lime Tree Theatre and is as relevant now as ever

educating rita

Willy Russell’s award-winning comedy Educating Rita comes to the Lime Tree in a new production by Emma Jordan, starring Kerri Quinn and Michael James Ford.

Educating Rita is in the Lime Tree Theatre and is as relevant now as it ever was

Actress Kerri Quinn who plays Rita in the upcoming classic play Educating Rita regards it as “extremely relevant”, despite being first produced in 1980.

Willy Russell’s award-winning comedy comes to the Lime Tree in a new production by Emma Jordan, starring Kerri Quinn and Michael James Ford.

The play focuses on Rita’s unhappiness with her life in her blue-collar, working-class environment, including her husband who wants Rita to cease her educational pursuits and instead to have children. Rita struggles to fit into a new educated middle-class existence in academia while seeking a “better song to sing”. Rita’s original preconceptions that the educated classes have better lives and are happier people are brought into question throughout the film through Frank’s failing social life and alcoholism.

This version of Rita, as distinct from the play and 1983 award-laden film, both of which had the central character as a Liverpudlian, is set in Belfast around the same time.

It does, however, follow the same path, as the wise-cracking, no-nonsense hairdresser from the working-class streets who enrols in an English Literature course, meets tutor Frank and embarks on a voyage of self-discovery.

“We obviously didn’t want to get bogged down too much with how grim a time it was in Belfast at that time, because obviously, it is very much about Rita and Frank’s world and their relationship and their journey,” explains Kerri of the Lime Tree bound play, which has had lengthy runs in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre.

“Our audiences have been very touched and moved because people can relate to a working-class girl that wants to better herself.”

Both the play and the part are “an absolute joy to do – it is one of those parts you dream of playing, it is such a journey,” she says.

“The journey she goes on, from an acting point of view, is just a dream come true because you long to get those opportunities to show your versatility.” Adds Quinn

“The number of women that said to me – she literally jeopardises her marriage to get an education – and have seen the play and have said, that happened to me, their husbands left them because they went to (get educated). If you wonder how relevant it is now – the answer is extremely. It is still very much hitting home and connecting with people.”

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