Month: July 2016

Blog: Poetry Reading at Hedgerow Theatre

 Third AnnualSpoken Word Seres
 7:30 P.M. August 2, 2016 
Often for nothing… sometimes to show off but always to satisfy his ego… the legend goes on. -Emiliano Martin
Hedgerow Theatre has a long standing tradition of bringing new works to life, and now for the third year in a row Hedgerow is inviting local poets to put voice to their works.
Steve Delia, Bob Moore Sr., Bob Moore Jr., Janet Noel Sadler, Mike Cohen, and Emiliano Martin will bring their poetry to the Hedgerow stage. Hosted by Martin, the event will feature poems, music, and conversations with the poets about their craft.
Lasting about two hours with an intermission, the evening will begin with works from Delia, Sadler, and Cohen, then be followed up with the musing of Bob Moore Sr. and Jr.. Martin will close the evening with a few of his poems.
Works will be available for purchase at Hedgerow, and during the performance all poets will mingle with the audience.
The Spoken Word Series begins at 7:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. Parking is available at Hedgerow Theatre. Spots in the lot fill up quickly, therefore we recommend coming early. 
For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).
 
 

Blog: Allison Bloechl was Born to be a German

2016BoeingBoeing_Trice Baldwin_Allison Bloechl
Trice Baldwin and Allison Bloechl are passionate people.

For the actors who appear in them, farces are about balance. Sometimes they need to  find the right proportion of character and physicality, and other times they have to allow that equilibrium to tip too far one way and crash into a box of mom’s poorly placed antique designer china.

Hedgerow Theatre Company Member Allison Bloechl, had one more concern while preparing to play Gretchen, the fiery German lover in Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing: honoring the role’s deeper connection to her personal history and making her character authentic and likeable while still making her slightly intimidating.

“I love doing the German dialect,” Bloechl notes. “My family is from Germany and it always reminds me of my grandfather making fun of his stern German mother at family gatherings. That being said, it can be a physically exhausting dialect to get all those consonants out in a way that is true to the language but still understandable.”

Raised on Monty Python VHS tapes and witty wordplay, Bloechl loves nothing more than a good comedic twist. “We all know comedy comes in threes,” she points out, “but when it comes to making me laugh, I love a good twist. I call it ‘once, twice, thrice with a twist.’ A good twist is unbeatable.”

Gretchen is the third and final fiancée of playboy architect Bernard’s ménage à trois scheme of planes and planning. The first is an American, Gloria (played by Meredith Beck) and the second is an Italian, Gabriella (played by Hanna Gaffney). For Bernard, Gretchen is all things German: strength, order, passion.

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Did not see that coming.

“I love that there’s no middle ground with Gretchen,” Bloechl says. “She is always at an extreme. She’s not excited, she’s ‘mad with happiness.’ Nothing is ever a half measure.”

As with any farce, the connection between actor and audience must be strong. For Bloechl, balancing the line between just enough and too much has been a process of discovery.

“The challenge for me with this farce,” she states, “has been making Gretchen accessible to audiences.  She’s super funny and wonderfully intense, which is so much fun to play; but finding the balance where her intensity is huge, but not distracting, required a lot of work.”

While watching comedy, people laugh at a lot of different thing and for many reasons. In farce, the most important element is the speed of the performance. Timing is king in comedy, and with Boeing Boeing the speed of the play is on point, as reviewers has recognized while praising the whole cast’s skillful execution.

Farce is faster than anything else. In most realistic or naturalistic plays the character has a processing time to ingest new information before they act.  Not the case with farce. You still live the reality of the character, but you lose the moment of deciding what to do next. If realist plays a function as input-reaction-output, farce skips the middle step and goes straight to output,” Bloechl summed up.

Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under and students are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.

For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

 

Podcast: Hanna Gaffney’s Italian

Hanna Gaffney is a new face to Hedgerow Theatre audiences. She has delighted audiences for three weeks now with her performance of Gabriella in Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing. In this week’s podcast, get to know Hanna and what makes her laugh.

Blog: An All American Girl

Gloria is a bit, over the top.
Gloria is a bit, over the top.

It’s important for people to be able to laugh at themselves. Comedy can provide commentary on the world and insight into higher truths, and especially in the current political times, we all need to laugh at how foreigners view what it’s like to be “an American.” In Marc Camoletti’s Boeing- Boeing, running at Hedgerow Theatre now through August 21, Meredith Beck brings the French playwright’s clichéd vision to life.

Beck revels in playing Gloria, a ditzy New Yorker with fire in her belly, in the critically acclaimed production. Gloria opens the play in the arms of her lover, Bernard (played by Andrew Parcell), in Paris. Yet, as flights get delayed and her views are challenged, her ditzyness slips away revealing a strong feminist stance and carnal, power-hungry desires.

“I find how bold Gloria is to be quite amusing,” Beck said. “It’s hard to find characters

Andrew Parcell and Meredith Beck
Andrew Parcell and Meredith Beck

who are not like yourself, but I think they largely become your favorite characters to play. What she feels comfortable doing with total strangers is something I cannot relate to. She is 100% confident. I’ve joked with cast members about her table manners and dining experience… she’s absurd”

Beck loves the challenge of playing someone so different from herself. With the help of director Damon Bonetti, Beck has taken this brash New Yorker and developed a loving, if not ridiculous, send-up to the essential quirks of being “an American.”

“I thought of characters like Adelaide from Guys and Dolls,” she recalled, “adding in the gum-smacking tough factor that Marisa Tomei brought to My Cousin Vinny… and that started me off with a direction I thought I could play with. Damon has helped me out a lot with this process and was incredibly patient, it really took time for me to find Gloria.”   

Beck had to find a way to get into the mind of Camoletti to play with the part. Physically, she fits the French stereotype of an “American” Gloria to a “T”: petite, blonde and larger than life. Yet, her talent as an actor reveals a hilariously authentic, yet wonderfully clichéd Gloria that is delighting both audiences and critics alike.

“I actually approached Gloria initially in a very different way than she has ended up,” Beck explained. “I first was reading Gloria to be a ‘perky faux cheerleader type’ and I kept hearing her lines as having a southern influence, even though she is referenced as a New Yorker. Perky cheerleader still exists, but now there’s a lot of bossiness layered in, and she’s quite aggressive and sassy.”

Parcell and Beck at top of show.
Parcell and Beck at top of show.

The aforementioned Bernard, an American architect living in Paris, has what he believes is the perfect system for having three fiancées: make sure they are airline hostesses on different routes.  Yet, by the end of the play the normally cool Bernard learns that some of his loves play the game better than he. Gloria, brings American things into the mix, including sports,  junk food and an A-type temperament.

“In addition to personality, there is a big point made of the stereotype of Americans eating large amounts of fairly disgusting food,” Beck laughed. “I’m probably lucky that the worst thing I have to eat is pancakes and ketchup.”

Comedy loves clichés, though there is certainly an art to color commentary and “not knowing your funny.” Directors and actors love finding the essential truth of a scene, but reveling in the things that make audiences laugh is what makes a farce spark.  

“I think clichés and stereotypes have a foundation of truth, but it’s just funny seeing every single characteristic combined into one ‘Super Stereotypical Person,’ Beck noted. “You hear about loud Americans and bossy Americans, the massive amounts of food we eat, ill-mannered, sexually aggressive—but surely those characteristics didn’t all exist in the same person… Well in farce, they do”

A long-time Hedgerow favorite, Beck has been seen in Educating Rita, An American Tragedy and Vanities, as well as last year’s summer farce, No Sex Please, We’re British.

“I love getting to play at Hedgerow in their summer farce!  Farce requires a lot of trust

Mark Swift and Beck
Mark Swift and Beck

of cast members, and a responsibility to make sure you do your best to set up others for success.  This cast trusts each other, and I look forward to a solid and silly run.

Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under and students are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.
For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

Blog: Swift Comedy

Mark Swift is a second year company member of Hedgerow Theatre from New Jersey. He has been seen in No Sex Please, We’re British, Dracula, A Christmas Carol, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and now Boeing Boeing. 

This week has been a big week in the press for the Hedgerow Theatre Company as their production of Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing continues to be recognized for its mastery of farce. With a Barrymore Recommendation and rave reviews from Philly.com and DC MetroArts, this year’s summer farce is one of the best in Hedgerow’s long history of performing this genre.

Directed by Damon Bonetti, Boeing Boeing features Bernard (Andrew Parcell), a playboy who, with the help of his witty maid Berthe (Trice Baldwin),  is “engaged” to three gorgeous airline hostesses: Gloria (Meredith Beck), an American, works for TWA; Gabriella (Hanna Gaffney), an Italian, is with Air Italia; and Gretchen (Allison Bloechl), a German, flies with Lufthansa. During a visit from an old college friend from Wisconsin, Robert (Mark Swift),  Bernard’s perfect flight plan is thrown into severe turbulence when weather and a new jumbo jet upset his timetables and bring all three women to Paris at the same time.

Swift, who worked with Bonetti on last year’s No Sex Please, We’re British, is once again the comic foil as Robert, and has once again wowed audiences. DC MetroArts raves about his “physical hijinks,” and Philly.com says, “Like a clown, he [Swift] exists to make us laugh; like a great comic actor, he elicits sympathy, and in his character’s reversal, a hint of admiration.”

“I really do love the show as a whole, but if I had to pick one moment in particular,” Swift observes, “it would be during the second half of act one, once Bernard realizes that two of his fianceés are in his flat. From this point on the farce kicks into overdrive and it’s such a fun ride. I couldn’t be more pleased with my fellow castmates. If it weren’t for their skills and on/off stage generosity, I can’t imagine myself having nearly as much fun.”

Having Bonetti as director was once again a positive experience. “I learned from Damon that farce is a machine. Every single line, physical gag, and even the slightest pause for silence are all part of an enormous ticking comedic clock,” notes Swift. “During the rehearsal process I watched as all my castmates experimented with new things, everyday coming in with some new joke and it was really inspiring. I love working with people who challenge me at every corner to up the ‘funny ante’.”

In last year’s British comedy, Swift played Brian Runnicles, the uptight chief cashier at a London bank, who finds himself having to dispose of vast shipments of pornography when his friend Peter’s wife accidentally signs them up for a mail order service. In this year’s French farce, Swift’s portrayal of Robert, a simple Wisconsin boy visiting his philandering friend Bernard in Paris, is on point, filled with all the physicality of Jerry Lewis and the wit of John Cleese.

I have always loved Jim Carrey, and seeing what he was able to do definitely inspired me at a young age to pursue acting,” Swift explains. “I have always appreciated physical humor and practiced falling down and being an all around ‘goofy mover’ ever since I was a little kid. As I grew older and discovered TV Land, I fell in love with Three’s Company and of course, the late and great John Ritter. To me, he was much like Carrey in that he was a very physical comedian—but I felt like I was able to learn more from Ritter in the ways of balancing physical humor and dry delivery.”

Swift graduated from Rider University with a B.A. in theatre performance in 2015, landed a job as an Acting Fellow at Hedgerow, and went straight to work in No Sex Please. Now a seasoned veteran at Hedgerow, with shows like Dracula (Renfield) and The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Alfred) under his belt, he has embraced the playful side of Hedgerow.

“The single most important thing I have learned through my time here at Hedgerow Theatre is that stupid is good,” Swift states. “There have been zero instances during any rehearsal process where someone has said ‘That’s so dumb’ and meant it as anything but the highest praise.”

If you want to see Swift and his fellow actors at work, head to Hedgerow by August 21 to “LOL” at Boeing Boeing. Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Saturday twilight shows (4 pm) are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under and students are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.

For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

 

Rose Schulman: On Acting

Vintage photo from Hedgerow Theatre Company of Rose Schulman.
Vintage photo from Hedgerow Theatre Company of Rose Schulman.

Rose Schulman‘s Thoughts on Acting

The art of acting is, at first, a “know thyself” process and it is well to add a know thyself process at the lowest levels of the self; what could be called our true and beautiful self and our chicane and ugly self; our capacity to care and love; our capacity to hate and be jealous and so on. It is finding out how TO BE or another way of saying it, to find A QUALITY OF PRESENCE. Then acting begins. The student is now ready to BECOME or BEHAVE like Ellie Dunn, or Nina Zaretchny, or Hamlet. A skill is on its way when you know why you are doing what you are doing; when and where you are doing what you are doing. And now you are ready to BECOME and BEHAVE and include the last of the processes of the skill: the way, the how, the manner of.

Our enemies in learning these are speed; proceeding to the how first before the groundwork is laid; the imposition of behaviors upon the exterior self. Our friends are good common sense, an affectionate consideration for material sweat and tears were used at the source of their creation; a respect for time in its most realistic sense (that is, a call at 7:25 P. M.) A great director (I forget who) once said that it was well for an actor to be 10 minutes early for any appointment. A respect for space; also in its most realistic sense: “Am I leaving an area just a little bit  better than I found it”?, and above all, an affectionate consideration for mankind. The craftsman actor begins to work with scenes; begins to study relatedness (that is, contact and timing). He perfects his skill up to a point where it is like the precision of the watchmaker

The artist actor. In a sense, at this point the teacher takes a back seat. He can appeal, stimulate and encourage, but it is now up to the actor to say to himself -“I now have the precision of the watchmaker. Dare I include the freedom of the bird?” And he so dares and then we have the artist actor.

It seems like a logical process to learn to act. There is an order, as there is in nature, but actually any one of us can at times be beginners, craftsmen and, upon occasion, artists. In my experience in teaching, I have found that it takes about 12 years to know your business, so cheer up. Meanwhile, be simple, generous and use it if you have it or develop if you don’t, a super-abundance of caring, and you’ll find out that the cares that infest the day will not line your face or bow your shoulders, for the art of make—believe is kind to us, if we give our interest, attention and energy towards learning and daring to pretend to be somebody else.

 

Blog: Hedgerow’s Greatest Strength

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With its first preview in the books, this year’s summer farce, Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing, is now underway. A fan favorite, the Hedgerow farce has been bringing in audiences for more than a decade. Establishing itself with the likes of Ray Cooney’s Not Now Darling and Run for Your Wife, the Hedgerow farce is a testament to the theatre’s greatest strength: the audience-actor connection.

For 93 years, Hedgerow has prided itself on connecting the performer with the viewer. From Jasper Deeter to Jared Reed, Hedgerow has invited the audience to experience classic and contemporary theatre in an intimate setting.

When Jasper founded the theatre, he was seeking a space where the actor and the audience could forgo the traditional stylings of New York and meet on a common ground. When he discovered the Borough Hall and found out that the space had been used for meetings and cabarets, he knew he had found his home; and thus, the regional theatre movement began.

Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed continues that same vision today. A lifelong member of Hedgerow, his mother Penelope practically raised him in the company, Jared’s love of the old grist mill stems from its ability to create an experience that is almost impossible to have anywhere else. He takes pride in being part of one of the first theatre companies in America to embrace the ensemble style, and bring professional quality to regional theatre.

At Hedgerow, the actors are a visible presence, right there with you, the theatregoer. Beginning in the parking lot, you meet several of the actors (Zoran Kovcic has been faithful for more than 20 years) you will see on stage later that night. Then as you move into the front of house, you meet the Fellows, who typically run the box office, and the volunteers, who greet you at the door with a program and a smile.

The show experience at Hedgerow is unlike most you’ve ever been to. Although Wyncote Way, the glass atrium located next to the gardens, is new to those who saw the first farce, who used to enter through the Hedgerow Arch, this new addition increased accessibility, allowing Hedgerow to welcome all to the 1840s grist mill.

There is not a single bad seat in the house, and the tiered seating makes sure all patrons have a great view of the philandering to come. Yet once the fiasco has begun, Hedgerow is still listening. Given the close proximity of the audience to the stage, the actors must each connect with those in the benches and perform in response to their reactions.

It is common for directors to be in the audience, taking notes on where the laugh lines really stick, and when the comedy hits its stride. In fact, this sort of active participation is exactly what has helped Hedgerow thrive for as long as it has.

Comedy is a science, and the timing of farce and wit must be precise to invoke the right laugh at the right time. Every decision made by both actor and director is made with the audience in mind. In every rehearsal, the audience is there.

The audience directly influences every action on and off the stage. Each show on the schedule is picked with the Hedgerow audience in mind. From this year’s Agatha Christie mystery to Camoletti’s comedy, the Hedgerow season reflects its patrons’ love of theatre.

In football, the fans are considered the twelfth man. It takes a lot of people to make a play possible, from directors and designers to stage managers and actors. At Hedgerow, however, the twelfth man is always in the room, and the audience is always welcome to come and laugh and play.


So, as we begin the run of the funniest time of year in Rose Valley, we do so with thankful hearts. Thankful that Hedgerow’s audience has embraced this ridiculous, fun style of play. From the first Cooney line 15 years ago to the last Camoletti laugh today, Hedgerow is grateful for each and every person who comes out to the annual summer farce.

 

Blog: Damon Bonetti Loves Ridiculousness

Damon Bonetti
Just look at this handsome devil.

For three years now, Damon Bonetti, actor, director, and co-founder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, has loved coming out to Hedgerow in June for its beauty, its actors, and to help create and continue its ridiculous tradition, “The Summer Farce.” He helmed the critically acclaimed The 39 Steps in 2014 and No Sex Please, We’re British in 2015. This year, he’s in Rose Valley once more to guide the production of Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing, which runs from July 7 to August 21.

“It’s the summer time, the weather is beautiful, and people want to come to the theatre and have a good time,” Bonetti observed. “They want to go to a party, and a farce is absolutely a party. Hedgerow is a beautiful place to come and perform, and an even better place to experience a show, and I love coming out here to bring the audience a great experience.”

As any farce should, Boeing Boeing features unwitting characters dealing with improbable situations that escalate to ridiculous levels, with lots of double entendres, physical comedy and general hilarity along the way. It takes place in the 1960s in the Paris apartment of American businessman Bernard, a playboy who is “engaged” to three gorgeous airline hostesses: Gloria, an American, works for TWA; Gabriella, an Italian, is with Air Italia; and Gretchen, a German, flies with Lufthansa. By keeping meticulous track of their different schedules, he’s able to juggle their arrivals and departures so none of them learn about the others, with the help of his grumpy, long-suffering maid Berthe. During a visit from an old college friend, Robert, from Wisconsin, Bernard’s perfect flight plan is thrown off course into severe turbulence when weather delays and changes in timetables bring all three women to Paris at the same time.

After graduating with a BA in theatre from Allentown College (now DeSales University), the South Philadelphia native worked with a touring company in Boston. While there, he went  to see Stephen Wadsworth’s translation and adaptation of Pierre de Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance at the Huntington Theatre in 1997 and met Jared Reed, Hedgerow’s current Producing Artistic Director, who was playing Harlequino. Although it wasn’t a result of that meeting, Bonetti came to Hedgerow the next year after earning his MFA in acting at Florida State University, to appear in Marat Sade. He returned in 2010 to play Ross Gardiner in Visiting Mr. Green. He met Reed again in Philadelphia a few years later, and was offered the opportunity to direct The 39 Steps, after having just performed in that play as Richard Hanney at Theatre Horizon.

Bonetti equally enjoys acting and directing, although he finds them very different. “As an actor my main concern is the role,” he reflected. ““My job as a director is to make sure the story gets told.” Explaining that comedy is very “precise and mathemetical,” he added that “there’s a reason comedy comes in threes and fives. The math and timing of farce is essential, and it is my job to make sure we are hitting all the jokes, and discovering all the physical bits, and then to let the actors do their work.”

Asked why the genre remains so popular, he answered,“People love farces because they are funny, because they are stupid, because they are dumb and they get to see people doing ridiculous things, and the audience gets to be glad that it is not them up there. Farce is it is controlled chaos. It helps if the play is good, and this play is very good…and it helps to have funny people in the play, who are also good actors. Directing is 90 percent casting, and I am so lucky to have this cast. Everyone brings their A game, every rehearsal and every show.”

Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under and students are $20. Tickets for the previews on July 7 and 8 are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.

For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).