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KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 3 (1983)

Dramatic devices and their influence on an audience's interpretations

Main image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 3 (1983)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicDeveloping a full impression of character in Educating Rita
Key Words Educating Rita, Willy Russell, Frank, Liverpool, Open University, Education, Literature
Show full lesson spec

Analysis of characters' background lives through an extract from the film added by the director (not featured in Russell's text).

This lesson has been developed as part of a scheme of work based on the complete film of Educating Rita, not only the extracts provided on Screenonline (although these may prove useful as well). This lesson takes as its basis the establishing scenes that introduce us to both Frank and Rita's lives (around 13 minutes into the film).

This lesson idea focuses on the dramatic devices used in film, in order for students to learn to appreciate how these can influence's an audience's interpretation of characters, plot, setting etc. Students must learn tow rite about dramatic devices as well as the characters' lines, when writing their coursework.

Lesson Objective

  • To be able to be able to use independent understanding of the writer's use of character and form.


In the starter, recap with students what information they know about the characters Rita and Frank. In groups of four, ask students to divide Act One scene one between them, so that each student works on a different section. Ask students to find and highlight quotations from their section which give hints about either character. Students should then create two spidergrams, on for Rita, one for Frank, of all the information the group has found about the two characters, and including the quotations from which they inferred their ideas.

As an extension, students should pick out the key words from the quotations, and add extra notes explaining the effects of this word(s). During feedback, emphasise the importance of close analysis of key words from quotations, in order to attain high grades in critical essays.


Main Attraction

Read Act One scene one with the students. Explain to students that students need to analyse how writers achieve effects by their use of dramatic devices, as well as the lines spoken by the characters. Recap what dramatic devices are, and ask students to make a glossary of dramatic devices and their meanings. Ask students to spend two minutes scanning Act One scene one for any stage directions that are important/ dramatic devices used which inform the audience about Rita or Frank.

Remind students that the play is a two-hander, and that the scenes take place in Frank's room in the play. Ask students what Lewis Gilbert has chosen to do in his film that makes it very different to the play. Introduce the clip by explaining that Gilbert has chosen to include these scenes in between what would be Act One scene one and Act One scene two of Russell's play. Explain that the film clip features scenes which show the audience the lives of Frank and Rita outside the university, and that they will be noting the dramatic devices/stagecraft Gilbert has used during their viewing of the clip.

Their main area of focus during the viewing should be exploring what the audience learns about Frank and Rita through the dramatic devices used to show: locations, characters (actions/appearance etc.), relationships. Pupils should feedback their notes in their groups, focussing on Rita (but as an extension, ask the students to produce more detailed notes on Frank also).

Ask student to write a commentary explaining what the director has done to flesh out the characters of Rita and Frank on film.


End Credits

Ask students to spend two minutes discussing how Lewis Gilbert has 'solved' problems of rendering action/setting and character in the extract from his film, in contrast to how Russell wrote the scene. Ask students to discuss what would have to be changed from the film if the play was to be performed on the radio. Play the clip again, covering the screen so that only the sound is heard, and ask students to think about what a radio audience would not understand that seeing the film changes. Ask students to discuss in their original groups how they would solve these problems.


External Links

Video Clips
1. Party preparations (3:18)
2. The wedding (3:41)
3. Summer school (2:55)
4. Dying without Mahler (1:58)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Educating Rita (1983)Educating Rita (1983)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)

Comparing the play with the film

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)

Looking at characterisation though dialogue as well as mise-en-scene

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 4 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 4 (1983)

Developing a full impression of a character

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 5 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 5 (1983)

A speaking and listening activity looking at characterisation