Producer David Pugh and Zoe Curnow, Executive Director of the Minack Theatre have announced the 40th anniversary production of Willy Russell’s play will be performed at the Minack Theatre this August.

(c)Seamus Ryan.

Having been on a UK tour when the government closed the theatres, it has been announced that Educating Rita will play at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall this August.

With social distancing in place, performances will be able to begin at the open air theatre on the 18th August, with the run of the show concluding on the 29th August.

This 40th anniversary production of the play is directed by Max Roberts and stars Stephen Tompkinson as Frank and Jessica Johnson as Rita.  

Talking about the news David Pugh said: “I am a producer, so I should produce. The idea of playing Educating Rita at the Minack Theatre is not only exciting but also a step towards re-opening all of our theatres. I do worry about the rain but when I mentioned this to Willy Russell, he said ‘Don’t worry, I’ll just add a line. Rita can say: There’s a leak in your ceiling, Frank.”

Educating Rita follows married hairdresser Rita, who enrols on an Open University course to expand her horizons, and her encounters with university tutor Frank. Frank is a frustrated poet, brilliant academic and dedicated drinker, who is less than enthusiastic about teaching Rita. However, Frank soon finds that his passion for literature is reignited by Rita, whose technical ability for the subject is limited by her lack of education, but whose enthusiasm Frank finds refreshing. The two soon realise how much they have to learn from each other.

Zoe Curnow said: “We are delighted to be able to reawaken the Minack from its lockdown sleep and put the soul back into our theatre with live performances. Having sadly had to postpone our previously scheduled 2020 season, we are delighted to be forging new friendships with producers like David and are really excited to welcome Willy Russell and Stephen and Jessica to our beautiful theatre. Our fingers are crossed that the sun shines on us for the remainder of the summer.”

Educating Rita was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and played at the Warehouse Theatre, London in 1980, starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston. Julie Walters reprised her role in the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning film opposite Michael Caine.

This 40th anniversary production features set and costume designs by Patrick Connellan, lighting design by Drummond Orr and sound design by David Flynn.

To ensure staff and audience members safety, the theatre has put in place a number of precautions including: restricting visitor numbers,  providing Perspex screening at all retail and information points,  providing hand sanitiser stations throughout the theatre , monitoring audience activity to maintain social distancing once seated, using one-way systems where necessary to enable social distancing , carrying out enhanced cleaning throughout your visit,  providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to our staff and operating a paperless and cashless system.

In return the theatre is asking for audiences to showing ticket on a mobile device where possible, respecting the social distancing measures in place and remaining where you are seated to maintain social distancing from other audience members, following any one-way signs, washing your hands for 20 seconds after using our facilities and using hand sanitiser when necessary and  supporting staff by showing patience whenever queuing is required.

Educating Rita will run at the Minack Theatre from the 14th to the 29th August.