Written by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Susannah Martin
Photos by Steve Decker + Howard Gerstein
Presented by Shotgun Players
March 19 – April 27, 2008
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS “…for all of the play’s feminist bite, the triumph of Susannah Martin’s sensitive revival… lies in its incisive personal psychology. Here the emotional stakes of this early work are as high as its ideological battles are fierce…From start to finish, Martin consistently finds the 21st-century immediacy of Shaw’s brutal observations on power, sex and money. Every elegant turn of phrase leads us back to the stinging accusation at the play’s center.” – Karen D’Souza
THEATRE DOGS “Shotgun Players’ production, directed with a firm hand by Susannah Martin, is polished and full of the right kind of energy, which is to say it has sass, playfulness and satiric edge.” – Chad Jones
“Do you think you are guiltless in the matter? Take care… The wages of prostitution are stitched into your button-holes and into your blouse, pasted into your matchboxes and your boxes of pins, stuffed into your mattress, mixed with the paint on your walls and stuck between the joints of your water-pipes… you will not cheat the Recording Angel into putting down your debts to the wrong account.” -George Bernard Shaw
This extraordinary play, Shaw’s third, was first written in 1893 and banned from public performance in England until 1925. The reasons given for the ban were the “filthy” subject matter and the underlying theme of incest, although Shaw believed it was because the play eviscerated most aspects of society for their participation in the commodification of women. It is remarkable how much modern psychology, sexuality, feminism, and sociology seem to apply to a play that was written before Freud published, before women had the vote, before the Labor Party had been formed, and before American capitalism had become dominant.
Despite its daunting history, the play is a deeply emotional investigation of one young woman’s struggle to forge her own identity separate from her parent. Vivie Warren takes the age-old journey of emancipation wherein several possible futures are offered to her. She submits to a five-day crucible that tests her beliefs and ideals in order to answer questions we all ultimately ask: Who am I? Who do I want to be?
As a daughter, I know what it is to judge my mother for her perceived crimes – for the actions I believe she should have taken or that I assume I would have taken. As I get older, though, I begin to see how every choice I make as a woman is possible because of every risk my mother took before me. I stand on her shoulders.
But that’s the rational, measured response to this play after time for reflection. Simply put: each of these characters is so profoundly human: perfectly flawed, right and wrong, vulnerable and hard as nails. Contrary to the belief that Shaw’s characters are mere mouthpieces, they open the door to a variety of responses. My hope is that our production allows you to have your own multifaceted reaction.
Vivie / Emily Jordan
Crofts / John Mercer
Mrs. Warren / Trish Mulholland*
Frank / Joseph O’Malley
Prayed / Nick Sholley*
Reverend Gardner / Rick Williams
*Member of AEA
Founding Artistic Director / Patrick Dooley
Assistant Director / Libby Vega
Costume Design / Rebecca Redmond
Deck Crew / Peter Lang + Maggie Yates
Dialect Coach / Rebecca Castelli
Dramaturg / Aaron Begg
Lighting Design / Allen Willner
Production Manager / Liz Lisle
Props Master / Jacquelyn Scott
Set Design / Steve Decker
Sound Design / Sara Huddleston
Stage Manager / Kate Sassoon
Technical Director / Daniel Gutierrez