Saturday 5 December 2009

Mrs Warren's Profession

George Bernard Shaw, 1894

In the Preface to the first published edition of Mrs Warren's Profession, 1888, Shaw declared, "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."

Into this rather somber initiation of censorship, and the first imprisonments for Suffragette martyrs in 1913, we find the characters of Shaw's superb play enacting the rather tragic meeting and parting of a mother and daughter who can never be at ease with the other's 'profession'. Vivie, young, bright, lithe, having successfully navigated her Cambridge Mathematical Tripos, a Lady no less, must come to terms with having been funded and cossetted as a direct result of her mother Kitty's stakes in the oldest profession in the world.

And then the stage lights dim, and our breath catches on the imposing sets, the heath beyond, the vivacious bloodred brocade of Felicity Kendal making her entrance regally, minxily (she manages both), and I have a desire to leap on stage and clap like a maniac. You know I don't get out much, and I was in the front row. FRONT ROW!! 'Twas all I could do not to participate...

I bided my time. Hours later, many weary chapped hands later, Mum, Victoria and I hung about slavishly, for autographs. We were stationed rather neatly between front reception and stage door. I snagged Mark Tandy and David Yelland outside the stage door, with a winning smile and a shared eyebrow snooted to the dripping rainsky. Scurried back inside only to find the deliciously tiny Felicity Kendal nipping for the door (and freedom) with her little dog. Unh ah. You don't get away from the Tayabalis and the Kingsley-Pallants that easily. Oh she was so very gracious, and signed and signed, and I told her about being in hospital all year and how seeing her perform so magnificently had been such a treat, and she hoped I was better now... And on my return home I created her a card with calligraphic chinese paintings and poems woven into it. Do you think she'll like them? I left it with the stage manager today. I hope my words find their way to her; I hope they make her smile.


RNSANE said...

Shaista, she SHOULD be delighted with anything you create for her. You are the best of the best!

Marion said...

What a fun time you had! I wanted to tell you that you can find my "Rainy Day Music" playlist at It's free when you sign up and you can copy other people's songs and playlists to make your own. Mine is listed under "Ms.Dragonfly80" if you'd like to copy it.

Thanks for your kind comments at my blog. Blessings!!

Ruth said...

Ohhh! Oh. Oh.

YOU. You are something so very special. The world is lucky to have you.

This post, short and short and short and perfect once again shows me what a treasure you are. It's beautiful, in thought, image and word. Your heart is beautiful, and subdued it was in this hospital year, and it erupted at the play, and here in the post, and in your calligraphy note, and all the places your heart can erupt to.

You touch me so very much.

All my love, Ruth

Oldsoul_NotQuite said...

Oh - this post is great fun! What super names - Kingsley-Pallants!!

Renee said...

Oh Shaista she will love it.

God, I wanted to jump on the stage with you and I'm not even there.

Love you darling girl.

Renee xoxo

Jo said...

Omigoodness, I love Felicity Kendal.

I think your words and your thoughtfulness will more than make her smile. My goodness...!

Maxine said...

Of course be will be delighted! This is an amazing review. It sets the historical context for the play, tells us a little of the play, and the playwright's ife as well as your own. It has depth and hope and feeling - no mean feat for a review.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

I have no doubt, absolutely NO DOUBT AT ALL, that as she signed for you, saw you, heard you briefly, you made an impression on her that will follow her the next weeks. We all have reasons why we create and I would imagine such a gifted actress does her craft for the same reasons you do yours and I do mine; to touch one another.

It is impossible for you not to touch. You can't even help it.

Tess Kincaid said...

Shaw and Yeats, neck and neck? Now you're talkin'!

Front row? You lucky girl! Sounds fabulous.

caramelcaramelo said...

hello dearest. thank you for your visit and your kind comments. i am really touched. your blog continues to bring me such a feeling of well being, of ease. it is lovely and so real. thank you. kenza

Kitty Moore said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Hope you're well (two of my sisters have lupus - took a long time for them to be correctly diagnosed)

Kitty x

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