Month: April 2016

Blog: Raised by Hedgerow Theatre

At Hedgerow Theatre School, we’re always very excited to welcome new students into our theatre family. We love knowing that we are going to be able to see children develop and grow their craft. It is so wonderful seeing other kids enjoying something we all love so much, and it’s so great that we get to have diverse casts of all ages. For all we know, we could be seeing these little 6-year-olds on movie screens, television screens, and big stages someday! However, in addition to our newest actors, we also have Theatre School students who have been with us for years. Some young actors have even been with us for decades, and are, in fact, not very young anymore. Elder Theatre School members and alumni continue to stick around and teach the younger actors, helping them to grow in their talents and watching as they discover their love for theatre, just as they once did. I, Gabby, have interviewed some of my peers who have been with Hedgerow since they were tiny, and are now teenagers, essentially having the opportunity to grow up at Hedgerow Theatre.
 
How long have you been with Hedgerow?
 
Anna: about 9-10 years
Michael: 11 years
Emma: 10 years
Talen: 13 years
 
What was your very first show?
 
Anna: When I was in kindergarten and first grade, I just did camps. My first camp was Ping and the Pea. My first onstage show was Godspell in 2nd grade.
 
Michael: Oliver was my first proper show.
 
Emma: Charlotte’s Web
 
Talen: My first show was Jungle Book.
 
What was your favorite thing about being able to grow up at Hedgerow?
 
Anna: Making friends. I am an introvert and talking to people is hard for me. When I went to Hedgerow, they were very welcoming and kind. I got to meet many kids/campers and grown ups/fellows.
 
Michael: Probably the fact that it allowed for a strong sense of community and friendship between people I would have never met otherwise.
 
Emma: That I got to make forever friends and grow up in a theatrical, diverse environment.
 
Talen: Making friends and knowing that they will be my friends for a lifetime.
How has Hedgerow changed since you first started? How has it improved? 
 
Emma: There are now different spaces for the kids to perform.
 
Talen: When I came to Hedgerow I was 4, I stuttered a lot, and I was very shy. It helped me not to stutter and now I’m the most outgoing person ever.
 
How do you expect Hedgerow to change in the future? 
 
Anna: Hopefully Hedgerow will have more space and more fellows. Like Pen said, hopefully there will be heaters for the house in the winter.
 
Michael: Who can really say? 
 
Talen: If anything, it’s just going to be a great place where everyone knows everyone. If it’s your first time at Hedgerow there are so many people that will make you feel like you’ve been there forever.
 
How has Hedgerow impacted your life? How would things be different today if you had not grown up with Hedgerow? 
 
Anna: I met one of my best friends at Hedgerow in 3rd grade during Through the Looking Glass. If I hadn’t met him, I would be completely different and just lost in life.
 
Michael: I’ve made some pretty good friends from Hedgerow, but it was also a big part of developing myself as an interesting person as well as basic moral stuff, since I was very young when I started.
 
Emma: I have learned a lot of technique for my future in theatrics. I probably would not have had such a fun time as a child and wouldn’t have found my hobby.
 
What lessons have you learned from growing up around Hedgerow?
 
Anna: I was very separate from everyone else and Hedgerow taught me to work as a team.
 
Michael: Too many to remember.
 
Emma: I have learned to be patient and to not make everything a competition.
 
Talen: When I was at Hedgerow as a younger kid, I would always get excited to see my parents in the audience of the showcase we would present at the end of the camp. There were times when my parents couldn’t be there or only one could be there, but it hurt the most when neither of them could be there because of work. So when I see kids upset, I understand how they feel and I can comfort them because I’ve felt their pain before. But the best times are when the parents are there and the kids have a big smile on their face.
 
What do you enjoy about being able to help the younger kids around Hedgerow the way you were helped when you were young?
 
Anna: I love helping the kids because I specifically remember during Godspell, I wouldn’t hold Carl Smith’s hand. So, he was like, “What’s in your hand?” And I said, “Nothing.” and opened my hand. Then he quickly grabbed my hand. Then during that moment I was like ‘Oh my god these people are really cool and smart!’
 
Michael: It’s nice to see the younger kids learning not just acting but also all of the little things I learned through Hedgerow when I was younger.
Emma: I really love being a counselor with the really little kids in the summer so I can teach them how to act on stage and in life. When I was younger, there weren’t teen counselors yet.
Talen: I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to ask questions, and it’s okay to say I don’t know.
What are some reasons why you would suggest participating in Hedgerow as a child, and why would you recommend it to children and their parents?
 
Anna: You will make very close friends and I’ve never gotten into a fight there because “We save the drama for the stage.”
 
Michael: I’d say it’s one of the best ways to be part of a tight knit and positive community for both children and adults.
Emma: Hedgerow is a great experience for younger kids who want to make friends and get experience in theater.
Talen: I would suggest Hedgerow because it just has a family feel. Everyone is just so friendly and welcoming, and with the variety of different ages, you’re bound to learn something new everyday. When I think of Hedgerow, I think of family, friends, and endless amounts of fun.
We love every child who studies with us at Hedgerow Theatre School, and we all love to help them learn and grow in their craft! It is a great opportunity to be able to raise little performers, and we love knowing that some of them will stay with us for very long, just as my friends above have.
 

Gabby Harrison, Anna Tang, Michael Tang, Emma Nederostek, and Talen Draper

Podcast: ToastMasters Philadelphia

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowAgathaMarchEarlyHigh-1 (1)With Styles in the middle of its run and the Gala set to open this Thursday to kick-off our birthday celebration, the podcast looks at a different facet of theatre: public speaking. ToastMasters is one of the most highly recognizable organizations for adults looking to break the fear of public speaking. It is said more people would rather pay taxes than give a speech. Well, today Yvonne Williams offers up tips and tricks to help you conquer those pre-speech jitters and give the toast you were meant to speak.

Blog: The World’s Greatest Detective

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Blog by Brock D. Vickers

Riddle me this, “Who is the world’s greatest detective?” Born out of the mind of Edgar Allan Poe, the detective story has captured audiences’ minds since its inception. Putting the pieces together and solving a puzzle is what draws us in. Are we smart enough to solve the riddle? Can we figure out the mystery before “The World’s Greatest Detective?”

The title, shared by the likes of Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or the enigmatic “L,” is like a challenge issued to the audience. Each of these characters has captured the limelight at some point, whether it is with BBC’s fantastic productions of Poirot or Sherlock, or even animé’s binge-watched Death Note.

Yet, since Auguste Dupin there has been one detective that has attracted more attention than any other. His resources are limitless, his story tragic, and his rogues’ gallery is unrivaled.

He was born for “Detective Comics,” and has been referred to as “The Dark Knight,” “The Caped Crusader,” and of course “The World’s Greatest Detective,” but is most commonly referred to as Batman. Whatever you know him as, or wherever you know him from, Batman is proof you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.

The Dark Knight is an American icon. He’s the only human among the gods of the Justice League (and also the man who destroys it). He’s taken down monstrous deities, tyrannical conquerors, terrorists, and every form of supervillain from those with one bad day to those with a lifetime of bad days. He’s the man who defeated Superman: “I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you.”

In 1939, after the success of Superman, Action Comics prompted editors of National Publications (the future DC Comics) to request more superheroes. In response, Bob Kane created “the Bat-Man” with collaborator Bill Finger to contrast the original golden boy. Created as a combination of Zorro, Dracula, and the Shadow, Kane and Finger’s creation has become one of the greatest comic-book characters to ever don a cape and cowl.

After witnessing the death of his parents, American billionaire playboy and philanthropist Bruce Wayne, swears vengeance against injustice and trains himself physically and mentally, crafting a bat-inspired persona to instill fear in criminals.

Unlike most superheroes, Batman possesses no superpowers; rather, he relies on his WideEyedStudiosHedgerowChristieFinalHigh-129 (1)intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, detective skills, and indomitable will to defeat his foes. Like Sherlock before him, Bruce sharpens his senses to the point of medical precision and makes himself more than man. He creates a symbol people can believe in.

Batman gained his own comic-book title in 1940. Though more of a superhero now, Batman started out as a true detective.  As the decades rolled on, new interpretations of the character evolved into the idea he is today.

The late 1960s Batman television series starring Adam West used a camp aesthetic. The dark soul of the character returned in 1986 with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, and Warner Bros.‘ live-action Batman feature films. From Tim Burton and Michael Keaton’s rubber-suited Knight to Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s realistic anti-hero, the Caped Crusader has become the most profitable hero of all time.

The character has set the standard for video games with Rocksteady’s Arkham series, as well as provided the model for how to make an action cartoon with the Emmy Award-winning television show Batman: The Animated Series.

He ranks second on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes (behind the honorary position held by the original superhero, Superman), and yet holds no powers. The secret to Batman’s draw is simple: he’s human. He has been broken by Bane and tempted by Poison Ivy, but ultimately if the Dark Knight were to miss his grapple, or be clipped by an Omega-Beam, he would go down for the count. He is fallible and mortal, just like us. There is no token weakness like wood or kryptonite, because every time the Dark Knight rises he is vulnerable.  

After the Green Lantern flies away to save the galaxy or Flash reverses time, what are we left with? It is Bruce’s humanity, his weakness, that draws us in. He is a flawed orphan, who has dedicated his life to an insurmountable task. The very idea of Batman is the essence of character.

In the theatre, we love flawed people. We do not go to the theatre to see people live through a good day, or watch them as things go right. We go to the theatre to see what people do while under duress. What fun is there is watching someone cope? We want to see the struggle. Bruce gives us the struggle. We know that every time he goes out on patrol, he is risking it all.

Batman is the most feared superhero of all, because he represents the absolute pinnacle of human achievement: the complete package and the ideal of what we all could be.

Always five steps ahead of his foes, he’s a brilliant detective, a world class athlete, and a master strategist, but in his crusade against injustice, there are two questions that drive this character: how far will he go and can he maintain his humanity?
Something is always at stake for the Dark Knight, and the beauty of the canon of stories from the earliest iterations by Kane and Finger to the most recent rendition by Zack Snyder, our hero is always in conflict. He has lost his parents, his lovers, his allies, his friends, and in some cases he’s even lost his own mind, but each and every time we see Batman pull through, we feel the catharsis of our own humanity. We believe in ourselves, because if Batman can do it, then why can’t we?

School Photos: First Class

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The Hedgerow Theatre School’s Spring classes started over the weekend and are now in full swing. Hedgerow’s students began work on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, reading one of the bard’s most well-known pieces, while the cast of Charlotte’s Web sang along together through the score of our youth class musical.

Blog: The First Detective

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowChristieFinalHigh-181Edgar Allan Poe is generally accepted to be the author of the first fictional detective, for his trilogy of short stories featuring Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin.  Written before the word detective entered into the dictionary, Poe’s Dupin and the stories he was involved in set the framework for the entire genre of detective literature that would follow, inspiring characters and plots in both Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels as well as Agatha Christie’s writings on Hercule Poirot.  

Dupin was featured in three different short stories, each involving a serious crime to be solved.  The first, The Murders in the Rue Morgue involved the double murder of a mother and daughter.  The second, The Mystery of Marie Roget, a fictionalized investigation based off the very real murder of Mary Rogers, whose corpse was found floating in the Hudson River in 1841, as well as the final installation, The Purloined Letter, a blackmailing case where the compromising contents of a stolen letter are used against the queen of France.

The inspiration for Dupin is said to have come from the French criminal-turned-detective François Vidocq, who helped to establish the Sûreté nationale, the national police force of France.  In turn, Dupin went on to inspire the trope of the gentleman detective, the upper-class, well-educated eccentric who favors the quiet solitude of the English country.  The stories followed the format that would later be used throughout the Golden Age of Detective Fiction – a story told about the detective by a close friend/narrator, about the eccentric detective overcoming the bumbling constabulary to solve a crime that has stumped the police, analyzing facts throughout the story only to have a big reveal scene at the narrative’s conclusion.  Dupin’s narratives also included the first locked-room mystery in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, where the culprit has left behind what appears to be a perfectly locked and sealed crime scene, making it difficult to ascertain how the culprit entered and left, as well as the first known account of a murder mystery detective story based on an actual crime in  The Mystery of Marie Roget.

The character of Dupin hails from a wealthy, gentlemanly background, but has been reduced to more modest means, forgoing anything he considers non-essentials apart from an extensive collection of books.  He became acquainted with the narrator when the two were both independently searching for a “rare and very remarkable volume” in an obscure library, moving into a shared apartment shortly after.

Poe described Dupin’s methods as “ratiocination”, a form of reasoning where the detective solves a crime by putting himself into the mind of the culprit in order to figure out the exact thought process of the criminal and thereby figure out each step of the crime.  He combines his superior logic with his creative mind in order to pinpoint the “unintended”, paying specific attention to hesitation, eagerness, and word choice when investigating suspects and witnesses.  Dupin’s methods also emphasizes the importance of reading and writing, with many of his clues coming from newspaper reports or reports written by the Prefect.

Without Dupin, detective literature as we know it today would not exist.  On top of inspiring Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, their respective authors wrote references into their works, giving a polite tip of the hat to the character that started it all.  Sherlock at one point mentions Dupin as an inferior intellect to his own, and criticizes Dupin’s method of “breaking in on his friend’s thoughts with an apropos remark” despite the fact that Holmes himself later uses the very same technique.  In addition to that, in Christie’s Poirot novels, the detective at one point pens a book about Edgar Allan Poe.  Dupin also received two film adaptations in the 1940s, though his name was changed from Auguste to Pierre, in Universal Pictures’ Mystery in the Rue Morgue and The Mystery of Marie Roget.  He appears as a character or reference in comics, such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Batman, as well as several novels about mysteries or Edgar Allan Poe, often ending up to be the author in disguise.