Posted tagged ‘acting’

GEM Theatrics Celebrates Women’s History Month!

March 9, 2012

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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Countdown — T-2

November 9, 2011

I want to step back from the fun and excitement of bringing “My Dearest Friend” to the Dog Story stage on Friday and talk about something serious.
Today is a down day for us here at GEM Theatrics because I have a “real” job that must be attended to. Don’t get me wrong: I love teaching at Davenport University and The Thomas M. Cooley Law School and, the economy being what it is, any job is a great job. But anyone who knows me knows that appearing in and producing plays is what really gets my juices flowing. It’s just that other things get in the way, and so there will be no rehearsal today. That doesn’t mean we’re not working to bring the best entertainment we can to our stage. Line rehearsals continue, characters still perk inside our heads and research goes on. AND, while I’m at school today, Mary Beth and Joel go to Dog Story to help unpack the new seating that will debut along with “My Dearest Friend” (and if you’ve been to Dog Story, you know this is a major, major improvement!).
What lead to all of this is a photo I saw on Facebook about the importance of supporting local businesses, including local artists, designers and crafters. When we buy locally, more of our money stays in and circulates through our community. Local employers are the biggest source of jobs in our economy. AND you say to those entrepreneurs “We appreciate what you do for us.” GEM Theatrics is an example. Our latest production was written by a local, talented author, Mary G. Kron. It stars two local theatre professionals, is performed in a locally owned theater and is supported by local technicians and a local composer, Todd M. Lewis. I am not knocking Broadway GR or Miller Auditorium or the Van Singel, who bring in touring shows — they’re great, but if you’ve seen a show at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Actors’ Theatre, Circle Theatre or at the Dog Story, you know that our local talent can stand toe to toe with New York and Chicago professionals in terms of talent and entertainment value — all at an affordable price.
So yup, I want you to come and see “My Dearest Friend” this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Dog Story Theater, but even if you don’t (shame on you!), before you go to the big box store and buy something made in China, why not check to see if there’s not a similar item made in the USA and sold locally through a local merchant. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised and then gratified that you did!
We at GEM Theatrics appreciate it! Oh yeah, if you come to the show, stay a few minutes after and say hi — we’d love to see you!
http://www.dogstorytheater.com
http://www.gemtheatrics.com


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