Scandals, Secrets, and Lies: Shaw’s Comedy Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Confronting the truth locks two unconventional women in a battle of wits and wills when Seattle Shakespeare Company presents Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw.

At the first rehearsal for the play, Seattle Shakespeare Company Artistic Director George Mount remarked that Mrs. Warren’s Profession hasn’t been produced in Seattle in 30 years. “It’s a surprise as to why this play isn’t done more often. It’s so profound and so poignant.” Although written in 1893, audiences in London had to wait over 30 years for a public performance of Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Productions were either banned or shut down due to the candid discussion of prostitution that takes place in the play.

Self-sufficient and sharp, Vivie Warren benefited from opportunities not available to her mother, Kitty Warren, who pulled herself out of the slums of London with grit and guile. When they meet after many years apart, the long-kept secret of Mrs. Warren’s financial success comes to the surface. As Vivie comes to grips with the truth about her mother, she faces hard choices of her own. In a world that can force you into some questionable choices, how do you move forward and remain true to yourself?

“I think this play is extraordinarily relevant to the times in which we now live,” said director Victor Pappas to the assembled cast and company at the first rehearsal. The comedy remains one of Shaw’s most provocative works as Mrs. Warren’s Profession exposes the tightly bound Victorian moral views and reminds us that there are still economic and social pressures that force individuals into compromises or unlawful behavior, and that there are people who profit by exploiting them. “It’s a fascinating world in which you can do everything except be acknowledged as whole,” said Pappas. “So the struggle for that sort of acknowledgement and that sort of self-determination is so much of what the play is about.”

Bobbi Kotula makes her Seattle Shakespeare Company debut as Kitty Warren. Emily Chisholm (The Servant of Two Masters) returns after several years to play Vivie Warren. Richard Ziman (Hamlet) will Sir George Crofts, Robert Shampain (Macbeth, 2001) will play Mr. Praed, Trevor Young Marston (Titus Andronicus) will play Frank Gardner, and Todd Jefferson Moore (The Comedy of Errors) will play Reverend Samuel Gardner.

Tickets to Mrs. Warren’s Profession are now on sale.