Educating Rita Devil Wears Prada
Host: Good morning listeners, this is Sam Lee with this week’s program of ‘Into the world’ where we discuss ways individuals make challenging transitions into new and different worlds and the risks and possibilities, which coincide with them. Significant experiences in people’s lives provide opportunities for growth and development. Going ‘into the world’ means moving from familiar experiences to new horizons.
We are especially blessed today to have Willy Russell famous playwright discussing his play ‘Educating Rita’ and David Frankel the director of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.
W. R: Thank you for having me on the program: it is a pleasure to discuss ‘Educating Rita’. Host: Willy how close is Rita’s story to your own? W. R: Is it that strikingly obvious Sam? I was a male hairdresser and owned my own salon before I began to compose novels, which enabled me to construct a more realistic character for Rita. ‘Educating Rita’ could be seen, as a semi-autobiography as I have already experienced the difficulties of being working class and I am aware of the challenges people with this social background may endure.
Similarly to Rita I also dreamed of better things, and returned to further education as a mature student attending evening classes at university, immersing in the delights of English literature. Host: Your mentor for Rita is Frank a flawed professor, why did you create such a complex mentor for Rita? W. R: Frank is perfect for Rita in his ‘imperfections’ as a real studious, pedantic professor would have frightened Rita off. At the start of the play, Frank and Rita can be seen as opposites and any friendship between the two seems unlikely, but they quickly warm to one another as first appearances show.
Frank sees Rita as a breath of fresh air in his life and he responds very well to her cheeky and irreverent approach to almost anything. They are both involved in unsatisfactory relationships, and they both want more from life than it seems to offer. Host: Rita’s marriage breaks down due to her newfound ambitions to change herself. You construct Danny as a largely un-sympathetic type, was this deliberate? W. R: No, Danny’s character was never created intentionally to be un-sympathetic, this perception of Danny is a result of his inability to understand Rita’s wish to be educated.
He is the archetypical figure that represents the opposition to Rita’s desire for change. Danny has a traditional view of the role of women and expects Rita to settle down and have children. He does not like that she is trying to break away from their lower class lifestyle. When he discovers that Rita has secretly been taking the pill to stop herself becoming pregnant, he blames her behaviour on her desire to ‘better’ herself and burns her books, this act is symbolic as throughout history books have been burnt to no avail and knowledge cannot be destroyed by something as weak as fire.
Danny’s intentional rejection to embrace the new, spells the end of their relationship. Host: Educating Rita can be linked to the growth, changes, as well as sacrifices made by Andy in The Devil Wears Prada where Andy is on a journey seeking to begin her life as an adult who is faced with moral and ethical choices. David would you agree that transitions into the world have greater risks and potential losses than possibilities? D. F: Well Sam, Andy begins as a strong, grounded character, opposite to Rita who becomes more and more preoccupied with success.
However similarly to Rita, Andy realizes the job is lonely and in order to achieve great success there must be great sacrifices. This is linked to Rita, as they both need to make sacrifices in order to excel, beginning with their partners. The tension in the relationship between Andy and her boyfriend is evident through the constant reference to the “old Andy” who he believes has gone. Nate Andy’s boyfriend is a constant reminder of where she came from, similarly with Danny. Host: It seems that although Rita and Andy have benefited, they lose a great deal including their individuality.
Would you agree Willy? W. R: Well, Rita has some of the rough, and possibly more original, edges of her personality knocked off, however the things she loses are no longer of great value to her. Rita desires to “know everything” in order to have choice and direction in her life, as evident by ‘I wanna discover meself’. Choice, to Rita, is more then ‘eight different types of lager’ as described by Denny and their social class. She now has a lot more freedom with regards with her future and what she wants, as she is educated. She has gained confidence in herself to associate with “proper” students. Host: Any comments on this David? D. F: Sacrifices need to be made in order to succeed Sam. Andy was initially unwilling to change her appearance even when pressured by colleagues. However she eventually goes through a dramatic costume change, squeezes into a size four dress with a sleek new haircut and expensive stilettos, which make her distinguishable from the rest. Host: Finally would you agree Willy that if something is worth achieving it will involve struggle? W. R: Any transitions into new and different worlds will involve a form of struggle, potential risks and if successful in this change, rewarding possibilities. So yes definitely Sam, nothing worth having comes easy.