WEST CHESTERFIELD, N.H. >> The Actors Theatre Playhouse will next presents George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" as part of its Saturday Staged Reading Series with two performances on Saturdays, This Saturday, Aug. 20 and next Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Toll free box office line is 877-666-1855. Tickets are $8. The Actors Theatre Playhouse is located on the corner of Brook and Main streets, West Chesterfield, N.H. For additional Information on this and other Playhouse productions, directions, reviews, blogs, etc. visit ATPlayhouse.org .
An early work of Shaw's, "Mrs. Warren's Profession" propelled the Woman's Movement onto the world stage with his usual wit, insight and upside down logic for which he was to become world famous. Vivie Warren, a thoroughly modern young woman, has just graduated from the University of Cambridge with honors in Mathematics. Her mother, Mrs Warren, is busy arranging Vivie's future to her own liking. Just how Mrs Warren makes her financial way through the world is a much guarded family secret. Vivie, who has lived a somewhat privileged life free from financial burdens, now requires answers. It turns out Mother and Daughter barely know one another. Mrs. Warren justifies to her daughter how she chose her particular profession in order to support her daughter and give her the opportunities she never had.
In the cast are Heather Herring as Vivie, Mia Moravis as Mrs Warren, Don McLean as Praed, Sam Murphy as Frank, Jon Mack as Crofts and Bill Pearre as Gardner. The reading is directed by Sam Pilo.
The play was originally banned by the Lord Chamberlain (Britain's official theatre censor) because of its frank discussion of prostitution, but was finally performed on Sunday, 5 January 1902, at London's New Lyric Club with the distinguished actor-manager Harley Granville-Barker. Members-only clubs had been a device to avoid the eye of authority, but actors often also used the opportunity to invite their fellow-artists to a private showing of a play, usually on Sundays, when theatres were closed to the public.
The first public performance in London took place in 1925, twenty three years after its first Members-only presentation.
A 1905 performance in New York, this time on a public stage, was interrupted by the police, who arrested the cast and crew for violating New York City's version of the Comstock laws. It was later held not to be in violation of the law, and has been revived on Broadway five times since. It was performed by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2012, and was so popular that the season was extended.
Shaw said he wrote the play "to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying, undervaluing and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together."
He explained the source of the play in a letter to the Daily Chronicle on 28 April 1898:
Miss Janet Achurch [an actress and friend of Shaw's] mentioned to me a novel by some French writer [Yvette by Guy de Maupassant] as having a dramatisable story in it. It being hopeless to get me to read anything, she told me the story... In the following autumn I was the guest of a lady [Beatrice Webb] of very distinguished ability, one whose knowledge of English social types is as remarkable as her command of industrial and political questions. She suggested that I should put on the stage a real modern lady of the governing class, not the sort of thing that theatrical and critical authorities imagine such a lady to be. I did so; and the result was Miss Vivie Warren ... Mrs. Warren herself was my version of the heroine of the romance narrated by Miss Achurch. The tremendously effective scene, which a baby could write if its sight were normal, in which she justifies herself, is only a paraphrase of a scene in a novel of my own, Cashel Byron's Profession (hence the title, Mrs Warren's Profession), in which a prize-fighter shows how he was driven into the ring exactly as Mrs. Warren was driven on the streets.