GEM Theatrics Celebrates Women’s History Month!

On this International Day of the Woman, and the start of Women’s History Month in the United States, we at GEM Theatrics want to say “Here’s to the Ladies!” For myself, personally, I know that I am the luckiest guy around to have the love and support and talent and intelligence of Mary Beth, the other half of our business. I bet most of the other guys out there owe a lot to the women in their lives, too.
But today, I want to focus just a bit on two women close to our theatrical lives — Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren. If you’ve followed these blogs, you already know a lot about Abigail Adams and if you don’t believe by now that she was pretty remarkable for her time, maybe by the time I’m done you’ll be convinced.

Abigail Adams

Abigail’s experiences probably weren’t unique; we maybe just think so because so many of her letters survive. Like many wives and mothers before her and since, when left behind while their men went off to do the “Nation’s business”, she had to expand her fields of expertise. She did it, too — wonderfully well. John Adams recognized the person she became: “Farmer, Parent, political Advisor, Manager of my business, my confidant, my Counselor — my Eyes of the Revolution!”
We also know, however, there were other areas where Abigail yearned for equality —  barriers that even as liberal a man as John Adams couldn’t see fit to help her surmount. Perhaps the largest disagreement Abigail and John encountered in their more than 50 years together involved the question of equal rights for women. Don’t misunderstand me; Abigail was no Susan B. Anthony. She didn’t want the vote, didn’t want that responsibility, but she always firmly believed that women had a place in the social order of things and that place was not subservient to men. We’ve posted a short clip on the home page from “My Dearest Friend” by Mary G. Kron that illustrates her point of view: “I long to hear that you have declared in the New Code of Laws that you remember the Ladies”, she wrote John, “and are more generous and favorable to them then your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember, all Men would be tyrants if they could.” John pooh-poohed her suggestion, and my personal view is that he probably never knew how much he hurt her by doing so (Adams was NOT a very empathetic person). But, WE know.
We know, because of the friendship Abigail had with Mercy Otis Warren.

Mercy Otis Warren

Mercy Otis could have been a member of the Mayflower Society — her mother’s ancestors had come to this country on that fabled ship. Her father was a judge, a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and an ardent supporter of Independence for the American colonies. Mercy was “raised in the midst of revolutionary ideals”, one of which was the education of females. Like Abigail, she had no formal schooling, but was tutored along with her brothers in her father’s home. Also, like Abigail, she was a frequent and powerful writer. Under pseudonyms, she published poems and plays that attacked the British crown, and in 1805, under her own name(!), she published a three-volume “History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution”, the first such history written by a woman.
When Abigail was rebuffed by John for her “remember the Ladies” letter, Abigail turned to Mercy Warren: “but I will tell him I have only been
making trial of the disinterestedness of his virtue, and when weighed in the balance have found it wanting.” We don’t know for certain, but it is likely that she never said anything of the kind to Adams’ face; it is only by virtue of the fact that letters can make us braver than we might be in person (email flames, anyone?) that we know of this dispute at all.
So, during this Women’s History Month, we at GEM Theatrics remember two very special ladies: Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren. What historical women inspire you? Let us know!  We’d love to hear!

ps — stay tuned for some very special news about an encore public performance of “My Dearest Friend”.  Details are still to be worked out, but we’re very excited!

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