Mrs. Warren's Profession

Performance history

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 as Frank, Fanny Brough as Mrs. Warren, George Goodhart as Sir George Crofts, Julius Knight as Praed, Madge McIntosh as Vivie and Cosmo Stuart as Rev. Samuel Gardner.[4] 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.

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.[5] It was later held not to be in violation of the law,[6] and has been revived on Broadway five times since. In December 1918 the play was produced in Perth, Australia by the actor manager Alan Wilkie and featured a friend and protégé of Shaw, Frediswyde Hunter-Watts, as Vivie Warren.

The play has been twice revived by the National Theatre, first in 1970-71 at the Old Vic, directed by Ronald Eyre, with Coral Browne and Sarah Badel, and more recently at the Lyttelton Theatre in 1985-86, directed by Anthony Page, with Joan Plowright and Jessica Turner as Mrs Warren and Vivie.

The Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario has mounted the play five times since the Festival's inception in 1962: 1976, 1990, 1997, 2008, and 2016

In 2006, it was revived off-broadway by The Irish Repertory Theatre, with Dana Ivey as Mrs. Warren, Laura Odeh as Vivie Warren, and David Staller as Mr. Praed. [7]

The play was revived in 2010 in three separate venues:

  • London's West End, at the Comedy Theatre with Felicity Kendal in the title role
  • Washington, by the Shakespeare Theatre Company at Sidney Harman Hall, with Elizabeth Ashley in the title role
  • Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre under the auspices of the Roundabout Theatre Company, with Cherry Jones as Kitty Warren and Sally Hawkins as Vivie

It was performed by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2012, and was so popular that the season was extended.

In 2016 the play was performed at the Center Theatre in Seattle.

In 2018, Eleanor Bishop's adaptation of the play was performed at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand by the Auckland Theatre Company.

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