The Oldest Profession by Paula Vogel

Posted in Past Events

The time is 1981, shortly after the election of Ronald Reagan. The place is a sunny park bench at 72nd Street & Broadway, in New York City. The people are Mae (Ciel Bottomly), a madam, and her stable: Ursula (Pat Myers), Lillian (Ginny Spaven), Vera (Cynthia Robinson-Sherer) and Edna (Margie Ferguson). They are five "working girls" at the end of their very long and exhausting careers. The youngest is 72 years old. While waiting for appointments with their gentlemen, the women reminisce about their early days in New Orleans' Storyville district -- where, Mae says, "there was honor in the trade" -- and argue about their options today. They are businesswomen whose clients are literally a dying breed. One of their customers has been kidnapped by his children. Another thinks it's 1940 and has taken to paying with silk stockings. Others are in the hospital, and may not be coming out. For Mae's stable, the financial situation is grave . . . and these girls aren't getting any younger.

Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) uses the notion of elderly prostitutes as a way to talk of the economic situation of women in a male society, the need for security in old age, the fears of death and change, and the age-old notion that a woman's best, and sometimes only, bargaining chip is her body. With the warmth generated by longtime friendships, and personality enriched by a lifetime of experience, the actresses in The Oldest Profession humanize the absurd spectacle of elderly prostitutes. These characters are independent, fun-loving, and gallant. These ladies portray the sisterhood of "The Life" with lively, unsentimental humor. Margie Ferguson and Pat Myers are making their Timshel Theatre Company debut in this show. Timshel Theatre has performed shows in Montrose, Paonia, Gunnison, and Ouray, and has plans to perform in Ridgway next year.

New York Premiere originally produced by Signature Theatre Company, New York City
James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director
Kathryn M. Lipuma, Executive Director
Kate Loewald, Guest Artistic Director for the Paula Vogel Season

Tags: Theater Ouray

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