How do I get my contemporary mind out of this show?
The women in “The Best of Everything” seem like such different women from me and from my fellow cast and crew members. We are still dealing with similar issues: sexism, social expectations concerning marriage and family, and what role we are meant to “play” as women in life. However, they still feel different from me. But are we that different from these women? No. I have realized that it is not that black and white. We need to acknowledge our past and the strides we have made as women, while simultaneously recognizing the change that is necessary concerning the societal expectations of women.
During our first read, we giggled, we sighed, and we even gasped at some of our characters thoughts and actions. Thoughts of what makes a happy marriage, what is expected out of a working girl, and how men are allowed to treat us. I have realized that we cannot look at our past with disdain or pity. The women of this time were given different circumstances and did have limited opportunity in the work force. However, these are also the women that advocated for change and made it happen. We are quick to judge our characters because it is something we would “never” do. For instance, my character April, meets the, “most interesting boy named Dexter Key. Isn’t that a wonderful name? It sounds so social.” I would like to believe that I would like a man whose character and personality were the focal point, and not his name and social status.
Why I am so quick to judge April?
April faces numerous struggles throughout the play: lack of money, an abortion, and the always troublesome world of dating. I am
not that different than April. But I automatically think I’m so much stronger, independent, and free willed when compared to her. Well, that’s a little self righteous! There is still much more women need to tackle. We do not live in a world that is free of sexism. It is a constant battle that cannot be forgotten.
Contemporary women didn’t get to where we are now in the blink of an eye. We see that evolution in “The Best of Everything.” Each woman endures her struggles differently, which illuminates the various societal perspectives and reactions of that specific struggle. Within these struggles we see our characters grow and halt, and grow and halt. Mary Agnes, a character obsessed with the perfect man and the perfect marriage nostalgically realizes that her work was a source of pride and passion. Innocent, young, naive April tries on many men before she finds true love, which the “love” of Dexter was supposed to avoid. And this is what made me realize that we are not that different from the women in our show.
Like April, I entered bright-eyed and ecstatic into the world of love and work. Like April, I have already been burned, many times. April’s arch is intense as I see her evolve into a person who learns to value the benefit of experience in the real world, true friendship, and learning who she is. When she does meet her husband, she is truly happy within herself and is not just adhering to, or settling for, societal expectations. Thank you April. Thank you for letting my contemporary mind ease up on the women of the past. Without them, there is absolutely no way we would be where we are today.
April in The Best of Everything