by CELIA FRANK, director of The Oldest Profession
Three decades ago, Paula Vogel conceived a play about five “seasoned” hookers sitting on a bench near the Broadway and 72nd Street subway station. The result was THE OLDEST PROFESSION, a mix of a send-up of supply side economics before and after Ronald Reagan’s election and the power of food and music and friendship to help us through life. This play’s political implications are likely to feel up-to-date for people struggling with today’s tough job market, as Vogel’s Midtown Manhattan hookers are faced with younger, drug-addicted competitors.
Paula Vogel describes THE OLDEST PROFESSION as her only pattern play. This means a structure which moves a story forward through variations on a particular situation or experience — we have six scenes, each beginning on the park bench and updating us on the five shady ladies’ situation. Their enterprise not only continues to lose customers, but its own members. And so, the five become four, then three, then two until only one is left, and the park bench scene openings are book-ended with a song from the last departed in route to a facsimile of the New Orleans bordello where all five got their start.