Valerie Curtis-Newton Directs THE BEST OF EVERYTHING

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Valerie Curtis-Newton Directs THE BEST OF EVERYTHING

UW Drama professor Valerie Curtis-Newton, who was just named one of the 13 most influential Seattleites of the past decade by the Seattle Times, will direct Julie Kramer's 2012 adaptation of Rona Jaffe's 1958 novel, The Best of Everything.

The Best of Everything is a swirling, fast-paced story of a group of women working at Fabian Publishing house in 1950s New York. Drawing comparisons to Mad Men, Sex and the City, and Girls, the play charts the ascendance of Caroline Bender, a young typist who confronts all the allure, degradation, and drudgery inherent to being a "working girl" in that era on her path to becoming an editor.

Straightforward and clear-eyed about everything from sex and abortion to abusive men and true heartbreak, Jaffe's novel was ahead of its time. According to a 2018 Buzzfeed article, "Jaffe's classic still strikes a chord, this time eerily prescient regarding so many of the circumstances surrounding sexual harassment that paved the way toward the #MeToo movement."

In her author's note on the play, playwright Julie Kramer suggests that the play is best performed with a "nod to 1940s and '50s performance style-a slightly heightened manner, quick cue pick-up." But, she warns that it should "never be campy. These girls mean what they say, completely and utterly." A New York Times review of the 2012 production noted, "The whole show is refreshingly free of the 'aren't-we-clever' self-consciousness that often accompanies such excursions into pop-culture past...there is a welcome humility at work here, which in turn creates a feeling of unvarnished transparency."

"These women have been sold an idea of what's possible for them," says Curtis-Newton. "Over the course of the play, they wake up to the realities of what it really means to be a woman in their world, and it all kind of comes crashing in on them. This book was revolutionary in that it talked about women's lives in non-romantic terms. It talked about what it meant that they could not control what happened to their bodies. It has a lot of relevance for our current moment. This play should do two things: One, it should be funny, and two, it should break your heart and piss you off."

The Best of Everything was adapted into a film starring Hope Lange and Joan Crawford in 1959, and a daytime soap opera which aired on ABC in 1970.

The cast is comprised of members of the Professional Actor Training Program (MFA, Acting) as well as undergraduate Drama majors. The designers are all members of the MFA Design program.


Tickets can be purchased at drama.uw.edu or through the ArtsUW Ticket Office: 206-543-4880, ticket@uw.edu.




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