FOLLOWING the successful collaboration on Talking Heads, Exeter Northcott Theatre is working again with The Uncommon Players to create another high-quality production of an established classic play.
Educating Rita, made famous by the film starring Julie Walters and Michael Caine, tells the story of hairdresser Rita and her desire to get a proper education.
At university she is tutored by Frank, a teacher with a drink problem who has lost his way. After a shaky start this strong-minded pair build a friendship built on mutual respect.
Director Anthony Richards said he deliberately didn't see the film before he started working on the play.
"I didn't want to be influenced by it," he said. "It is a fantastic play and I wanted to do it our way.
"It will be similar to the film version because it is all about the two main characters, but in the play all you see on stage are Frank and Rita.
"Their backgrounds and experiences come out through their conversations and apart from one small scene when Frank is on his own, they are on stage together for the whole time.
"They are very challenging roles for the actors – they have got a lot of dialogue to learn. And the play goes through a lot of emotions. It is painfully funny and passionately serious.
"It also doesn't tie everything up in a bow at the end. They don't live happily ever after together. They meet and help each other out and because of that have a deep friendship.
"Rita doesn't necessarily use her qualifications. It is not about that. It is about the choices she now has."
The two actors, Eddie Holden and Mary Elliot, who have taken on the roles both have full time jobs.
"We have been rehearsing since mid-summer, because we have to fit around their work," said Anthony. "This makes rehearsals very long and intense. But they are both really enthusiastic and have put in a lot of hard work. It is all coming together really well."
This will be the fourth major production The Uncommon Players have done in collaboration with the Northcott and they are hoping to tour it around the county in the spring.
"We are very fortunate to be able to work with the theatre," said Anthony. "It gives us a chance to use their great stage and lighting – and gives us access to all the wonderful costumes."
The Players are a group of enthusiastic theatre-makers from around the Exeter area and a sub-group of the Devon-based charity enterprise Common Players, which was set up by Anthony Richards around 20 years ago.
"Common Players was set up in order to do new and engaging theatre around rural communities and towns," he said.
"There's an awful lot of talent in Exeter and the surrounding areas and I thought why not put it to some good use.
"We decided to run a series of workshops to find people who could get together and share skills with a view to performing existing plays – and The Uncommon Players was formed. It's all about creating really good plays from local ingredients, not importing actors from London and other areas."
Educating Rita runs at the Northcott from September 26 to 28. Box office: 01392 493493.
For more information on The Uncommon Players visit www.uncommonplayers.org.uk