CORONATION Street and Hollyoaks actress Kimberley Hart Simpson tackles one of the most famous female stage roles when she stars in Educating Rita at the Mowlem Theatre, Swanage, from Tuesday 7th to Saturday 11th September.
She plays Rita, the hairdresser who decides to take an Open University degree, and Keith Hill plays Frank, the tutor, a part played by Michael Caine in the film version (with Julie Walters, who also created the role on stage).
Rita is a 26 year old Liverpudlian on a quest to ‘better herself’. Pursuing her passion for English literature, she enrolls in an Open University course. Frank, a middle aged university lecturer and Rita’s tutor, is bitter and cynical. Frustrated and miserable in his career and his life, he seeks solace and medication in alcohol.
Willy Russell’s touching but hilarious masterpiece tells the story of two people from very different worlds who find an unlikely connection. A play with a huge heart, Educating Rita explores the power of human connection and the importance of education to shape lives.
Rita discovers that learning is not about remembering facts but about being given the tools to engage and interrogate the world around us, that education broadens horizons and allows for greater empathy and understanding.
Director Alice Bartlett says: “I’m so thrilled to be coming back to Swanage, which holds many happy childhood memories for me. And absolutely delighted to be returning with a production of Willy Russell’s wonderful comedy, Educating Rita. Rita is such an inspiring and magnificent character with the potential to educate us all.
“The disruptions and challenges of recent months, both in the UK and internationally, have focussed many of us on the importance of education. I’m far from alone in learning new skills and re-evaluating my priorities over the past year.
“Perhaps that’s why this play feels so very relevant right now – because this is Rita’s journey too: to shape a new identity for herself, on her own terms, in a changing world. It’s a play about self-empowerment, aspiration and authenticity. It reminds us that learning is for life, not just for exams.”