Anne Scurria is trying something new. Now in her 44th year acting at Trinity Rep, Scurria is directing her first play.

As Scurria tells it, she was sitting at a show next to Peggy Melosi, a former student of hers. Melosi asked if Scurria would be interested in directing a show for the newly-formed WomensWork Theatre Collaborative.

The show is Paula Vogel’s “The Oldest Profession,” about “five old whores on a bench.” That’s Scurria’s description. “They handed this show to me. I’m the luckiest gal alive,” Scurria said recently.

Paula Faber plays Mae, one of the five. “It’s a magical story about five old hookers in Manhattan in 1980. How can anyone resist that?”

The official synopsis: “As Ronald Reagan enters the White House, five aging practitioners of the oldest profession are faced with a diminishing clientele, increased competition for their niche market, and aching joints. With wit, compassion, and humor, they struggle to find and learn new tricks as they fight to stay in the Life.”

For Scurria, the process has been magical. “One thing that makes it easy is that the actors are all professional. They’re terrific learning their lines, they come on time, and they know one another.”

Melosi, Rae Mancini, Jeannie Carson and Juli Parker are the other four performers. “They’re all supposed to be in their late 70s, early 80s,” says Scurria. “These beautiful older women aren’t even old enough to play the characters they’re playing.” In real life, they range from 58 to 73, with Parker being “our baby.”

Scurria can’t say enough about her cast. “These women are so dedicated, they all have jobs, and they rehearse at night after a full days’ work. They never miss a beat.”

Faber describes Mae as “both a woman’s woman and a man’s woman, and by that, I mean she manages people by being fair, nurturing, passionate and fierce. As Madam, she is extremely protective of her stable and always has her girls’ best interests at heart.”

For Faber, the rehearsals have “been nothing but a joy. We’ve been working very hard and some of us are certainly stepping out of our comfort zones. But you couldn’t ask for a safer, more supportive environment.”

Scurria is delighted with her directorial debut. “At 70, it’s not too late to start.” She’d love to direct more shows. “It’s fun, it’s really fun. It’s fun to figure out how to get the actors to do the work. It’s wonderful.”

Scurria wants the actors to feel like they own the show. “Being directed by Annie is such a positive experience,” says Faber. “She works collaboratively with the cast and crew and appreciates our input. And I just love the women in this cast, some of whom I’ve worked with for almost 25 years. Most importantly, we all laugh a lot.”

WomensWork is grateful for Jeff Church, artistic director at the Burbage Theatre in Pawtucket, for offering his space for this show. “It’s their first production at a theater that has a home,” says Scurria, “rather than a space somewhere.”

WomensWork and the Burbage Theatre present “The Oldest Profession” through February 19 at the Burbage in Pawtucket. For tickets, visit For more information on the WomensWork Theatre Collaborative, visit their Facebook page.