EDUCATING RITA to Play Barter Stage II

EDUCATING RITA to Play Barter Stage II

Life is filled with big choices. Rita (Holly Williams) thinks she has already made her big choice when she decides to enroll in night school, but she's about to be faced with a whole new set of dilemmas. In Barter Theatre's witty and irreverent new play, "Educating Rita," this outspoken blue-collar hair dresser meets a disillusioned old English professor, and neither will ever be the same.

Rita feels stuck in her ordinary life. She's torn between her husband's pressure to have a baby and settle down and her heart's desire to seek an education.

When she decides to take a series of night school courses, she is assigned a tutor: Frank, a heavy drinking professor disenfranchised with academia, played by Michael Poisson.

It is when these two characters meet that the lively verbal jousting begins. Rita's new found zest for life and thirst for knowledge force Frank's self-realization that, despite all of his book-smarts, he actually knows nothing. "It is funny and very charming to watch Rita and Frank, whose different worlds collide and they discover, often painfully and hilariously, how much each of them has to offer the other. It is great fun," says director Tricia Matthews.

Though this smart comedy showcases only two actors throughout the entire play, Matthews rises to the challenge again. Since 2009, she's has directed four such plays. "Two person shows are very much about creating a chemistry between the characters. Finding out why these two people are intertwined in each others lives and why all other characters never enter the room," said Matthews, "It is the great acting and the great writing that make this piece work so well."

Rita and Frank's challenges to each other's outlook on life is exactly where the comedy lies. Rita's naive, practical, and "dead-on" answers pull Frank, immersed in academia, into some place new, refreshing and alive.

Playwright Willy Russell's "Educating Rita" was directly inspired by George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion," which, in turn, inspired "My Fair Lady", another Barter production this Fall.

"Educating Rita" is a new spin on both these stories and will have audiences guessing how far Rita and Frank will go on their journey and whether it will work out for either of them.

Corporate Sponsor for "Educating Rita" is Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and media partners are Washington County News and abc19.

For more information about "Educating Rita" or Barter's summer repertory, visit or call (276) 628-3991.

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