GENESEO, N.Y. – The State University at New York at Geneseo’s School of the Arts opens it fall season with George Bernard Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” Sept. 29- Oct. 4 in the college’s Robert Sinclair Theatre in Brodie Hall. The Tuesday through Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. A Sunday matinee is scheduled at 2 o’clock.
The work was the Irish playwright’s third play, written from 1893-94, but wasn’t publicly produced in England for 25 years because of strict censorship rules. The first American production of the play was shut down the weekend it opened on Broadway and authorities arrested the cast. Although Mrs. Warren’s “profession” is never named, the play debates her profession of prostitution as a reasonable choice for a working class woman, given that she is barred from most professions and educational opportunities and restricted by a repressive class system.
“As coordinator of the women’s studies program, I am struck by the divided opinions about sex workers among scholars and students of women’s studies,” said Melanie Blood, professor of theater at Geneseo, who is directing the production. “Some feminists condemn the morality of sex workers, while nearly equal numbers praise them for working a poor system to their own favor. Shaw writes effective insights as to why this issue is so divisive that are still applicable today,” she said.
The play focuses on the mother/daughter relationship between Mrs. Warren and her daughter Vivie, who has just graduated from Cambridge University, where she tied with the third wrangler in the challenging Cambridge exit examination. While the two women are more alike than they can easily admit, Vivie struggles to come to terms with her having been raised on the profits of prostitution.
The cast features senior MaryElisabeth Kimbark as Mrs. Kitty Warren; junior Becky Hoffman as her daughter, Vivie; senior Sean Miller as Frank Gardner; sophomore Brian Clemente as the Rev. Sam Gardner, his father; junior Jake Roa as Praed, an old friend of Mrs. Warren; and senior Angelis Duarte as Sir George Crofts.
The production staff includes Steven Stubblefield, associate professor of theater, scenic design; senior Megan Ball, costume design; senior Tao Li, lighting design; Johnnie Ferrell, associate professor of theater, sound design; junior Kaitlin Springston, properties design; and junior Alyson Ellis, stage manager.
Tickets for the production are $7 and are available at the Brodie Hall Fine Arts Box Office, 585-245-5833, or online.