In this essay I’m going to discuss the similarities in the plays Our Day Out ; Educating Rita by Willy Russell. In both plays the characters have grown up trapped due to various reasons but all trapped because of their lack of education. Willy Russell was born in Knowsley a village not far from Liverpool on the 23rd of August 1947. He went to Woolfall secondary school for a year, he then left to go to Rainford secondary school were he left when he was 15 and with no qualifications.The play ‘Our Day Out’ was based on a progress class, who Russell took on a school trip. ‘Educating Rita’ was written in 1980, this was also based on Russell past experiences. Susan later known as Rita in ‘Educating Rita’, worked as a women’s hairdresser, as did Russell.
He then went to college to get a proper education like Susan who went to an open university. ‘Our Day Out’ was written in 1977. It’s based on Russell’s life at Shoreford comprehensive school where he taught from 1973-74.During the time that Russell was a teacher, he took a progress class on a school trip and based most of that trip on ‘Our Day Out’. I know that Russell’s plays were based on his life because of the language used, slang and regional dialect for Rita (Susan), Denny (her husband) in ‘Educating Rita’, the children in ‘Our Day Out’, and some of the teachers.
I will further discuss Russell’s use of language and social influences later in the main essay. Main discussion Being trapped is a main theme in both ‘Educating Rita’ and ‘Our Day Out’.In both of these plays most of the characters are. In ‘Our Day Out’ it is mainly the children who are trapped and some of the teachers are also faced with the same dilemma of being trapped and have no escape.
In ‘Our Day Out’ the children feel trapped because of the way they are brought up, because of where they live; a rough area, and the majority of them will never get a good education. In ‘Our Day Out’ one teacher who is trapped is Mr Briggs. Mr Briggs feels trapped because he is trapped in his own restrictive personality where he never has a good time.In ‘Educating Rita’ Frank is like Mr Briggs because he’s always serious or shouting about something probably due to his drinking although he escapes through drinking.
‘Our Day Out’ is based on a progress classes trip to wales by 4 teachers, Mrs Kay, Mr Briggs, Susan and Colin. The children go to the school trip feeling trapped. Although they know they’re getting away from Liverpool for the day and temporarily escaping from their lives. When the time comes for the children to leave they realise that there is a better life than what they have and that which they are trapped and will probably never escape from.
One child who feels particularly trapped is Carol Chandler, who was born into an unloving and uncaring family Carol feels that when she leaves school she’ll just be factory fodder. Going on the trip makes Carol feel even worse and even more trapped because she sees another side of life. She’s then more aware of her predicament than ever. One that has no way out for her. Mr Briggs tries to encourage Carol by telling her that there’s nothing stopping her working hard and moving out of pilot street and maybe out of Liverpool when she’s old enough. Carol knows this isn’t true.Russell uses his own experiences here by reflecting society at the time. Liverpool was suffering from unemployment and most working classed people were desperate, financially unstable and having no chances to change their situation Carol replies by saying ‘Don’t be so friggin stupid’.
By using slang, this makes this makes the children more realistic, giving some conviction to the characters. The language used by the children contrasts with that of the teachers who speak standard English. The use of language can be used to show the divide between the classes.In ‘educating Rita’ Susan’s husband wants her to have a baby, but Susan doesn’t want to because in order to do so she’d have to give up her education, making her feel trapped. When Susan starts her education she feels she’s growing apart from her family and changes her name to Rita. Denny doesn’t want Susan to be educated because he’d would feel he wasn’t good enough for her. I think that when Denny finds out that Susan’s is still taking birth control pills, it’s an opportunity to stop her going to university by burning her books and her work.
This upsets Susan.Susan still upset goes to see frank her teacher and tells him of what’s happened. Later instead of going out with Denny and his friends to the pub which has Denny enthralled at the choice of twelve different beers, Susan goes to the theatre to see MacBeth which she enjoys and tells Frank of her experience the next day. Susan escapes through her education in the end when she finishes at the university. Frank Susan’s teacher in ‘Educating Rita’ is trapped and that’s why he drinks, to escape. Trish, Susan’s flatmate is also trapped and she escapes by attempting suicide but as this doesn’t work she remains trapped.The characters speak slang and Liverpudlian, which makes the plays more realistic.
The educated speak standard English, in contrast to the working classes this helps to show the divide between classes. Russell uses humour to get across serious points. We laugh but we remember and focus upon these important areas.
In both plays the plays the characters are trapped, but in ‘Our Day Out’ they escape for one day but Susan escapes permanently. Russell reflects his own life through his plays. The economic depression in Liverpool is reflected in Russell’s plays show the squalled environment and lack of job opportunities.