Posted tagged ‘“Arts and Humanities Touring Directory”’

John Adams and the US Navy

July 23, 2013

Earlier this month, Mary Beth and I attended the Tall Ships Celebration in Bay City, Michigan. This festival of sailing ships is a periodic event, but this was our first time going. We attended on the opening Thursday and, instead of going to the docks along the Saginaw river, we thought we would travel closer to Saginaw Bay and try to see the ships coming in under sail. Pride of Baltimore 3Now, I’m not a sailor, or even really a boater, but there is something about seeing sailing ships, especially ships of some size, coming in under the power of the wind that is thrilling to me. Our vantage point in a riverside park in Essexville, Michigan wasn’t far enough out to sea to actually see the ships coming in solely by wind power, but many of them had their sails unfurled, giving the illusion of natural propulsion. Some members of a local boating club saluted each of the eleven ships (one from as far away as Denmark) with a mock cannon blast. Each ship answered the salute, either with mock cannons of its own, or by blowing the ship’s horn. Pride of Baltimore 2The sky was bright blue, the temperature not too hot; all in all a great day.
This experience got me thinking about the US Navy. The Tall Ships Celebration website told me that some of the ships I was seeing would be participating in a mock lake battle on Labor Day, recreating a naval battle in Lake Erie during the War of 1812. I already knew how important the French fleet had been to the struggling 13 colonies during the Revolutionary War, and that without the protection of those ships, the war with Great Britain might well have been lost.
That same idea resonated with John Adams, too. “It was John Adams who drafted the first set of rules and regulations for the new navy — a point of pride for him as long as he lived. Indeed, in the 25 years that John Adams served his country, and especially as President, in his advocacy of a strong navy he stood second to none.” (David McCullough) Adams called the Navy “the wooden walls of America,” and fought tirelessly to create and strengthen it. No early test of the American Navy was greater than that faced during the War of 1812. In the ocean, and on the Great Lakes, the ships authorized by Adams during his Presidency performed brilliantly, far better, actually, than our land-based troops, which suffered defeat after defeat until Andrew Jackson’s post-peace victory in New Orleans (where he was aided by the ships of pirates). One-time friend turned political enemy Thomas Jefferson wrote Adams: “I sincerely congratulate you on the success of our little navy, which must be more gratifying to you than to most men, as having been the early and constant advocate of wooden walls.” Today, John Adams is known as the “Father of the Navy.”
I was also reminded, watching the ships enter the harbor in Bay City, of our trip to Massachusetts over the July 4th Holiday two years’ ago, when Mary Beth and I had the chance to tour the USS Constitution. 20110702_0297Authorized by President Washington, built in Boston, and boasting 44 guns, this oldest of all surviving US naval vessels was launched on October 21, 1797, during the first year in office of John Adams and just nine days before his 62nd birthday. Whether through superior building materials or fantastic luck, the Constitution withstood every assault aimed at her, earning her the nickname “Old Ironsides.” Much as Francis Scott Key’s ode to the “Star-Spangled Banner” sustaining over Fort McHenry, the survival and victories of the Constitution bucked up a nation desperately in need of positive news. Indeed, the victories of the Navy are thought by some historians to have played a large part in the wearing down process that finally brought Britain to the treaty table. Adams must have been very proud.
These topics, and many others, are touched on in GEM Theatrics’ production of Mary G. Kron’s “My Dearest Friend” available for booking at your venue right now. We’re thrilled to announce that the One-Act version of “My Dearest Friend” will be produced at Davenport University in September, 2013, as part of the Constitution Week commemoration. The full Two-Act version will be produced as part of the Lake Effect Fringe Festival at Grand Rapids’ Dog Story Theater February 28 – March 2, 2014. More details will soon appear on our website: http://www.gemtheatrics.com
We hope to see all of you at one of our performances!!
(All photos (c) Gary E. Mitchell; all rights reserved)

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A Time For Reflection; A Time Of Anticipation

December 10, 2012

Christmas Tree“It’s that time of year”, the song says, “when the world falls in love.” We hope those words come true for each and every one of you reading this entry. With all of you, we at GEM Theatrics hope for Peace on Earth and Good Will among all people. We hope that the times of strife in our country and around the world will soon end and that our leaders can find the right path.
But the end of the year is also a time to reflect. For Mary Beth and me, this has been a year of professional growth as we saw our little theatrical business grow from a dream to something real, something we can be proud of. Over the course of the past 12 months or so, we brought Mary G. Kron’s wonderful telling of the story of John and Abigail Adams to life with performances of My Dearest Friend at Dog Story Theater last November, Davenport University this past September and The Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck, MI in October. 8009093294_76e0099f04_bWe also showcased the show in Traverse City in June for the Michigan Presenters Annual Conference and in November for the Michigan Joint Social Studies Conference in Warren, MI. Audience response has been enthusiastic everywhere we’ve performed and we are confident that this is an informative and entertaining look at two fascinating lives from our history.
We are also thrilled to report that My Dearest Friend was accepted into the 2012 – 2015 Michigan Humanities Council Touring Directory. In order to be selected a short video from the show was reviewed by experts in the field, who judged it worthy of inclusion. What this means for non-profits looking to bring a quality entertainment to your venue is that grant money is available to underwrite 40% of the cost of hiring us! Just go to: http://www.michiganhumanities.org/programs/touring/index.php  for more information.
We also performed our signature piece, A. R. Gurney’s Love Letters, for two nights this past fall at Noto’s Old DSC_0020_croppedWorld Italian Dining as part of a dinner theatre package presented by StageOneGR, DSC_0017_croppeda new dinner theatre company founded by our new pal, Gary Morrison. We had a great time and the audiences got a superb meal and the chance to experience Mr. Gurney’s touching and funny play.

 

 

But, year ends are also a time for looking forward. Assuming the Mayans weren’t correct about that end of the world thing, 2013 offers a host of new opportunities for us — and that means also for you!

For those of you who have missed it so far, My Dearest Friend will be presented — in its entirety — Feb. 9 at the Kentwood Library, 4950 Breton Rd. SE, Kentwood,MI, at 2:00 pm.  Admission is free! We’re very grateful to the library for this opportunity. Come on out and see us!
In addition, details are being finalized to bring Love Letters to the Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck, MI for the Valentine’s weekend. Save the date and stay tuned! More information to come!
Helping make February an even busier month for us, we’re very pleased to announce that GEM Theatrics will be participating in the first annual Lake Effect Fringe Festival!LEFF large with TM We’re thrilled to be a founding member of this very exciting venture, along with Dog Story Theater, Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company and Stark Turn Players. One of the purposes of the Festival is to allow entertainment groups of all stripes who may not have their own theatre spaces to come together for a month of eclectic presentations all in one venue. We’re hoping this annual festival of performing arts will expose these groups to new audiences who may not know of our existence, not to mention showcasing the wealth of talent that exists right here in West Michigan. Tickets for all shows will be just $10/$8.
GEM Theatrics’ weekend will be Feb. 22 – 24, and we’re directing and producing two one-act plays by local playwrights. Based on the theme Working for a Living, we’ll be presenting Rock of Ages, by Mary G. Kron, about the effect of disaster on coal mining families, and the world premiere of The Interview, by Patrick M. Bailey, which deals with the issues of outsourcing. While some roles have been cast, we’re still looking for actors. Auditions will be January 12 and 13 and there is a link on the Home Page of this website for details.
So, as you can see, we have a lot of exciting events coming up in 2013. We hope you’ll check this website often for updates and follow our page on Facebook. Until we see you somewhere down the line, have a fabulous and heart-warming Holiday Season!!

Humanities Council and War of 1812

May 15, 2012

I know this should be two separate blogs, but we’re so busy at GEM Theatrics right now, that I’m making this one do double duty.
First, we just found out that our production of “My Dearest Friend,” by Mary G. Kron, has been selected to be part of the 2012 – 2015 Arts and Humanities Touring Directory by the Michigan Humanities Council. We’re gratified by this selection! Every entry is judged by an “independent panel of experts in the appropriate humanities and arts fields” in order to be included. What this selection means is that not only was our show deemed worthy, but non-profit groups all over the state will be able to see our entry and, if they want to book us, will be able to get financial assistance from the Council to make the presentation of our show happen! The new Directory will be available online by August 1, 2012. If you know a school or library or museum that would like to bring a quality historical theatrical piece to their venue, let them know about us!

Second, June 1, 2012 marks the 200th Anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812. On June 1, 1812, President James Madison sent to Congress a declaration of the grievances against Great Britain and a request for a Declaration of War. Congress obliged on June 18. The grievances stated were: British interference with US trade with France, the impressment of US sailors who were former British citizens, and British support of Indian raids on US outposts in the territories.
You might be thinking: “Gary, what has this got to do with John and Abigail Adams? Adams was defeated in 1800 and had long retired from politics.” All of that is true. But, what is also true is that, without John Adams, the United States might well have lost the War of 1812. We almost lost as it was. For the only time in our history, a foreign power invaded Washington, DC and burned government buildings, including the White House (in fact, the Executive Mansion wasn’t called the White House until after the war, when white paint was used to cover the charred exterior). The truth is that we only “held our own” during the conflict and our only real victory (Jackson’s defeat of the British in New Orleans) came after the peace treaty had been signed. That we were able to hold our own was largely due to the long out of office John Adams. Adams had managed during his presidency to avoid a much sought after war with France that surely would have decimated US capital and armaments. In addition, Adams was responsible for the growth of the US Navy, without which our ground troops would surely have been overrun by British forces landing on our shores. Adams had, since the Revolution, believed that sea power was the one force of arms that would establish the US as a true world power. In this, as in many other things, he was truly ahead of his time. US naval strength would prove itself time and time again to be of monumental importance in safeguarding American freedoms, and, despite the advance in nuclear and other weapons, is still a vital force in the world today.
We at GEM Theatrics salute our Navy and all of our men and women serving their country at home and abroad in every branch of our armed forces. If you’d like to bring our bit of history to your venue, we’d be extremely pleased to hear from you to set it up!


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