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The First Seventy Years: Chapter 71 - A Matter Of Conscience

Eric Biddulph resigns from an amateur dramatic society because of a line in the play Educating Rita.

During early 2003 I received an invitation from Enid Luty, who was directing 'Educating Rita' for Huddersfield Thespians, to act as assistant director. The play was structured around two actors only Rita and Frank. The girl in the role of Rita was clearly out of her depth. It was not long before she got 'cold feet' and pulled out to be replaced by an experienced and talented actor.

As rehearsals recommenced one of Rita's lines caused me some concern. Many plays written in a different era can sometimes use language which can appear unwise or intemperate by contemporary standards particularly in relation to race or gender. I consider the line which referred to race to be unwisely retained and suggested to Enid that it should be replaced by a less offensive choice of word. Her response was to tell me that the script could not be changed. This I found surprising given that actors repeatedly made unauthorised minor changes to their script whenever they felt uncomfortable with specific words or phrases.

"You aren't a politically correct type are you" or words to that effect. I was shocked. I telephoned one of the other leading members and requested a meeting with her. She promised to raise the matter with Enid and the girl playing Rita. She phoned me back the following day to tell me that Enid would not agree to make any change. My response was to indicate that this was a resigning matter for me. I decided to wait until I had seen the performance of the play. I subsequently tendered my letter of resignation with a heavy heart.

My thespian activities coming to an abrupt end. I let matter lie dormant for the 2003 summer. Come the autumn I decided to join Halifax Thespians after researching the alternatives available in Huddersfield. I have never regretted my decision.


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