Month: August 2016

Blog: Adapting Down Doyle

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Photo from previous production of Sherlock Holmes

Blog by Brock D. Vickers

With countless iterations in the books, on TV and movie screens, and theatre stages, adapting a tale about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero should be easy, right? Not necessarily. In paring down Doyle’s third Sherlock Holmes mystery for our latest Storyboard thriller The Hound of the Baskervilles  (September 9-18), I found that these classic stories are a little more classic and a little less story.

Now before internet trolls begin sending copies of Benedict Cumberbatch’s headshot to my email, allow me to explain: Doyle was writing for a different time. When we read a novel like Baskerville we read a novel of atmosphere. Much like a gothic tale from Poe or a modern Lars Von Trier film, atmosphere is king in this novel.

As one reads this book, we find the moors a place not unlike the gothic American South, a place full of mystery, magic and demons. An average English reader at the time would have already considered the moors a place rife with fear, a place people did not go if they had any sense about them.

Therefore, when a Dr. Mortimer shows up with his lottery ticket for Sir. Henry Baskerville, it WESHedgerowCindySherlockFinalHigh-114would be the equivalent of the beginning of every haunted house movie ever written: The Shinning, House on Haunted Hill, or Thirteen Ghosts (seriously check this movie out, it’s as awful as it is brilliant and is worth every second of insanity). Yet, given the context of the Sherlock Holmes motif, genius detective breaks down unsolvable crime, from the beginning the gothic style is undermined, almost.

We as the audience trust the Detective to break through any malaise of supernatural. Watson can believe it all he wants, but we know Holmes could never be duped in that way. We know that no matter how crazy the case gets, he’ll ultimately find a rational solution, just as TV viewers could trust that  Dr. Gregory House, one of the modern iterations of Holmes, would always diagnose his patient’s perplexing illness.

Still, we want to believe—and this is the crux of the story—the ever raging battle between our rational mind and our desire to believe. With no guiding light, we lose ourselves in the mystery of the moors, and for a while, we forget about reason.

Imagine consuming this novel the way we binge watch Stranger Things: sitting alone at night, tucked away in a dark corner, no television or internet, just you (Watson) and Sir Henry Baskerville lost in the myth of the moor. This is the brilliance of Doyle’s novel. We expect a turn, and therefore we allow ourselves to believe in stranger things for a while.

Sherlock may be coming to rescue our minds, but not for another hundred pages. Luckily, we have expedited that process in our Storyboard and brought the audience all the aura and none of the extraneous fluff.

So if you are looking to share that experience of being a frightened kid listening to The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or a tantalized young adult watching Basil Rathbone with your child, then come check out our latest adaptation of one of Doyle’s most timeless Sherlock stories; but remember, no one makes it out of the moors.

Blog: The Hunt for the Hound is On

Blog by

Brock D. Vickers adaptor of The Hound of the Baskervilles opening September 9

The Hound of the Baskervilles is such a great story because it puts us into a world where everything we’ve come to expect of the Sherlock mythos is upside down. Sherlock is missing for most of the story, thWESHedgerowCindySherlockFinalHigh-102 (1)e moors are a place that invoke a desperate feeling deep within us, and we are asked to face our fear of the unknown and question reality. Without Holmes there as the voice of reason, we slide deeper and deeper into a dark world where reason seems to fly off the handle.

Hound is not your traditional mystery; in fact, I would make the argument Hound is a thriller, and not a mystery at all, one that is meant to be enjoyed like a horror film or a good piece of pulp fiction.

Holmes is one of the most iconic characters of all time. He was the inspiration for my favorite detective, Batman, and has been portrayed more times in film and television than Hamlet (technically Dracula is the most filmed character, but given that he is undead, Sherlock ranks in as the number one human).

In addition to being portrayed himself, Sherlock has served as the basis for numerous on-screen personalities such as Dr. Gregory House and Patrick Lane. For over a century, this mind has intrigued writers, actors, and directors from all mediums. Where would screenwriting be today without the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Furthermore, why are we so intrigued by this cunning, calculating detective?

Although Arthur Conan Doyle did not give us the first detective story (that distinction belongsto Edgar Allan Poe and C. Auguste Dupin), he certainly expanded the genre to greater depths. Take, for instance, fingerprints. Sherlock uses them in 1890, even though the first recorded criminal recording is in Argentina in 1893, years before Scotland Yard, which did not adopt the practice until 1901. For those CSI and Dexter fans out there, Sherlock was the first detective to use both ballistics and blood splatter as evidence.

When we think of Holmes, ideas of deerstalker hats, pipes, and tweed immediately come to mind. The likes of Basil Rathbone and Benedict Cumberbatch elicit thoughts of precise minds and expert study. We have seen both a humanizing approach by Sir Ian McKellen and a neurotic depiction by Robert Downey Jr.

We recognize his devotion and his obsession, like a man crazed by a puzzle. Yet, unlike us, Sherlock thrives on the obstacle. With each case, the detective hunts for greater, more challenging enigmas.WESHedgerowCindySherlockFinalHigh-91

Again and again, we come back to Sherlock: for mystery, for clues, for the thrill of the chase. This singular detective, and his compadre Dr. Watson, live in our imaginations as if they were old friends.

Sherlock is an ideal, albeit a wild one. As an audience we like to imagine the possibilities of Sherlock. What are his limits? What would we be like if we had his intellect? What could we do if no safe could hold a secret?

Watson, on the other hand, is a reality. Though traditionally depicted as a bit of a rube, Dr. Watson represents us: the reader, the audience, the novice always one step behind Sherlock. With each adventure, the good doctor races into battle, pistol in hand, without a clue as to what the detective has led him to this time.

So together, Doyle has given us a perfect pair. In each, we can see ourselves: how we are, and how we could be. Therefore, while we sit in a stone theatre away from civilization, let’s lose ourselves in this foggy world of mystery. Let the shadows of Hedgerow fill you with dread, the images of Sherlock and Watson transport you to another place, the voices of the actors fill you with wonder, and the words of Doyle take you to a place long forgotten by time.

Picking a Season of Shows from 1923 to 2016

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Jared Reed and Brock Vickers in The Servant of Two Masters

“Good art comes from clarity of vision” is not just a firmly held belief of recently named Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, but also the principle he plans to follow as he guides the Hedgerow Theatre Company into its 94th season.

As he takes the helm of the company from his mother, Penelope Reed, Jared continues her efforts in raising the standard of excellence at Hedgerow, but also seeks to make it a voice in modern American theatre.

Previously, Jared served as Artistic Director and Penelope functioned as Executive Director. Jared has now assumed the duties that fell under both of those titles. Penelope continues with a new title of Emeritus Directors, working in three of her favorite areas: outreach, community relationships and teaching.

As a member of the fifth generation of a professional acting family, there was little doubt Jared had inherited the theatre gene. He first became involved at Hedgerow as a teen in 1990, the year his mother was asked to bring her vast experience to the efforts of rebuilding after a disastrous fire. Jared went on to graduate from the prestigious Juilliard School with a degree in acting. He then worked in New York and at multiple theatres around the country before settling in the Philadelphia area to raise a family.

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Mark Swift, Meredith Beck, and Trice Baldwin in Boeing Boeing

Jared considers the craft of theatre a “noble purpose.” It is the art form’s ability to unite the arts, “the synthesis,” that drives his passion for the medium. “The purpose of theatre today is the same purpose as it’s always been,” he explained, “to entertain, to educate, to grow our human experience, and to give hope.” It also provides “freshness, a universal truth seen in a new light,” he continued. “It comes from intellectual and emotional honesty, a deep and open personal truth.”

Founded in 1923 by actor/director Jasper Deeter, Hedgerow quickly became a home for artists of all disciplines, including such famous names as Eugene O’Neill, Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, Theodore Dreiser, and Wharton Esherick.

“When Hedgerow started, it was the only theatre around, really (the Walnut was more of a booking house at the time),” Jared observed, “so Jasper wanted to start a theatre for actors, a place where they could do their art outside the pressure of New York, and explore the kind of theatre they were interested in.”

Deeter fell in love with the intimacy of the 1840s grist mill-turned borough hall, the aesthetic appreciation of the Rose Valley community, and the opportunity to create a theatre with an artistic rather than commercial center. He foreshadowed the regional not-for-profit theatre movement, established a racially integrated company of resident, local, and visiting artists, and maintained an identity for Hedgerow as a seminal theatre for theatre artists throughout the country.

“Today, we exist as one of many Philadelphia theatre companies, and so we must make our way in this new landscape,” Jared commented. “We are still a training ground and a resident ensemble, and we are still exploring the shows that interest us, as well as the types of stories our audiences want to see.”

From its earliest days until now, Hedgerow has always been about uniting the actor and the audience. Deeter’s vision was one about simplifying the process and bringing the stories that needed to be told to the people who needed to hear them.

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Allison Bloechl and Kittson O’Neill in Or,

“Hedgerow’s strongest asset is its ability to connect with our audience,” Jared noted. “We are small enough that we can know our audience quite well, and they can feel they know us. It’s a personal experience when you come to Hedgerow. You know the actors on stage, you’ve seen them working in the lobby, or you’ve seen them in previous shows and met them. We pride ourselves on making each time an audience member comes to our theatre a unique experience they cannot get anywhere else,”

With adaptations such as The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Prisoner of Zenda, audience favorites like the Summer Farce Boeing Boeing, the Autumn Thriller Gaslight, and the A Christmas Carol, and the Russian drama Uncle Vanya, the 2016-17 season features a mix of new works and classic stories.

“When I pick a season for Hedgerow, I consider how the plays fit together,” Jared clarified. “For us, as a theatre that produces many different styles of plays year round, we look to marry this broad range of play styles with the artistic ensemble’s abilities.”

In the last year, he introduced a regional premiere with Liz Duffy Adams’ Or, and produced three new adaptations: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Servant of Two Masters, and A Christmas Carol. With each story, Jared has combined a classic story Hedgerow audiences love, such as Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, with a fresh new take from an adapter and director.

“I love new works, new art, new minds creating new plays to work with,” Jared reflected. “I have a belief that theatre is always at a crossroads and has to ‘reinvent’ itself for the current generation. What we hope to do is take our company of artists and give them material that fits their talents and is interesting to this particular audience.”

Hedgerow’s goals have not changed much from the time of Deeter. The Theatre Company seeks to create compelling works that inspire its audiences, as well as give Philadelphia theatre artists a home to create and collaborate. Though the tide of the time is changing, the mission remains the same: craft.

Hedgerow still places its Fellowship program as one of its best assets,” Jared said in closing. “We’ve had so many artists come through here over the years, artists who went on to be vital members of the Philadelphia theatre community, and artists in America. The Fellowship’s purpose is to educate and guide young arts professionals as they transition into mature professionals. It’s great to watch an artist grow from their first show here to their last, and you can see them get their legs under them with each performance,”

 

Blog: 7 Lessons from Comedy

boeing2017 (366)With two successful comedies back to back, The Servant of Two Masters and Boeing Boeing, Hedgerow Theatre has spent the majority of the last four months contemplating comedy. With Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed playing the masked Truffaldino in Servant, and Director Damon Bonetti conducting his third Hedgerow farce with Boeing, we wanted to share some sage advice from these two master farceurs:

 

 

  1. Pain is funny.
    • People like to see other people suffer. Comedy is tragedy seen through the prism of time.  Who cleans up the bodies at the end of Hamlet? We enjoy seeing people squirm.
  2. We laugh at what we recognize.
    • Knowledge is finite, but human stupidity is endless. When we see someone make an idiot of themselves, or dig themselves into a deeper and deeper hole we laugh at the fact we’ve done that to ourselves before, but we also enjoy the fact that it is not us stuck in that situation.
  3. Comedy is scientific.
    • It’s all about timing. You must direct the audiences attention, and it must be precise. How do you direct an audience to look at a certain place at a certain time to get where the joke is, the setup, the delivery, the punchline, the acceptance of the joke. With comedy, the audience must be kept in mind at all times.
  4. Truth is funny.
    • Tragedy is truth done in the way we expect it; however, when we see truth in new and fresh ways we laugh at the unexpected. When we point out the folly of something, we peel back the layers and reveal the ridiculousness of it.
  5. The unexpected is what makes us laugh.
    • The rule of three works for a reason: there is the original action, the repetition, and then the turn, or the surprise. With the turn, people get to experience the repetition for a third time, because the mind fills in the pattern, but also the audience gets to feel a sense of surprise when the pattern is broken.
  6. Casting is crucial.
    • You have to have the right people in the right places so that the comedy can be recognized and honored, but also so that the structure of the comedy is delivered effectively. It is important to discover who the characters are and to honor their humanity, and not just play for jokes.  The actors in a piece are the vehicle for the comedy, and if the team is out of alignment, then the game is lost before it is played.
  7. You have to enjoy yourself.
    • From the first read through to the final performance, you must enjoy being in the room. Audiences recognize when the performers love what they do, and in comedy if the people on stage are not having a good time, it shows. Sharing a laugh with an audience, sharing a laugh with a cast mate, and making people smile is at the heart of what we do. If we miss the mark on that, we miss the mark on the whole shabang.

Click here for an additional laugh.

Surprise! For checking out this blog post use this code for $10 off any purchase at Hedgerow: TAKE10.

Podcast: Two Americans in Paris

Andrew Parcell and Meredith Beck met at Hedgerow almost four years ago. Today, that are working on Marc Camoletti’s Barrymore Recommended Boeing Boeing. They sit down to talk about working together on a new project, as well as the inner workings of a farce.

Blog: Poetry Tonight

Hedgerow Theatre

Proudly presents its 3RD SPOKEN WORD

An evening with Poets… Musicians and Song Writers….

Tuesday, August 2nd 2016

At 7:30 pm

Performing that evening:

Steve Delia, poet

Janet Sadler, poet

Mike Cohen, poet

Bob Moore Sr, musician

Bob Moore Jr. musician, songwriter and poet

Emiliano Martín, poet and M/C of the program

BIOS FOR ALL PERFORMERS THAT EVENING….

Steve Delia

Has been crumpling balls of paper for over thirty years. The one he keeps he calls poetry. He has authored five chapbooks and he is completing a new one under the title “The Alphabet Letters,” soon to be released.

Recently he won the first prize in the Philadelphia WritersConference. As a poet he is well read through out the Philadelphia area. E-mail: strawbs4steve@aol.com

 

Bob Moore, Sr.

is a trained classical pianist with a lifelong love of poetry as his favorite arts form. He has sung with the Notre Dame Glee Club, played piano with community orchestras, accompanied singers and musicians in several recitals as well as having been the Rose Valley Voices accompanist for ~ 35 years.

– Note: After moving to a senior living community, Mr. Moore initiated a Poetry Corner that began in April of 2015, National Poetry Month, with Bob Moore, Jr., as the guest poet. Meetings take place the last Wed. of each month.  The Poetry Club is open to all residents and friends, who are encouraged to bring their favorite poetry books and read poems for group enjoyment and discussion.  A Poetry Book Section has started in their own Library.

E-mail : moorea8b@comcast.net

Bob Moore Jr.,

Bob Moore has been writing poetry and songs since the early 1990’s. He released a collection of songs in 1991 entitled, “On a Mission”. Following a retreat and having the chance to read some Emerson and other New England poets, he began spending his time delving into poetry, and self-published a collection of poems in 1997 entitled, “A Bridge with a View”. In 2009, he released a second collection of poems entitled “Unexpected Colors”, published by Beech River Books. In 2013, Moore released a collection of instrumentals for solo guitar also entitled “A Bridge with a View”. Moore is host of The First Friday Coffeehouse held monthly every first Friday of the month at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Exeter in Exeter, NH. By day, he works as a science teacher at Pelham High School in Pelham, NH.  E-mail :bmoore628@comcast.net

 

Janet Noel Sadler

is a native of Havertown, Pennsylvania. She has published two full volumes of poetry with her own illustrations:Headwinds and Full Sail, and has been published in many small literary magazines. Once member of the Mad Poets Society in Media PA, and also the Overbrook Poets in Philadelphia, she reads her poetry at local venues. She was a former poetry director at Tyme Gallery in Havertown, PA and at Baldwin’s Book Barn in West Chester, PA.

Sculpting, oil painting, and composing music are also her passions. She has a publishing company called, FairfieldLimited that makes chapbooks for local poets. There are two CD’s to her credit: Outside of Time and Tone Poems, Et Cetera—original songs recorded by a variety of studio musicians, as well as herself. She has authored twenty-five flash fiction novels, twenty titles of which have been published through Xlibris and can be found at these websites:jnsadlerbooks.com, Amazon.com, Xlibris.com, and Barnes &Noble.com. She is hoping to sell one of her screen plays in the near future. Her most recent exhibit of original oil paintings was in March at the Regency Café, where she read her poetry, some ekphrastic verses, and offered a variety of her novels for sale.

E-mail: fairfieldltd@verizon.net

 

Mike Cohen

hosts Poetry Aloud and Alive at Philadelphia’s Big Blue Marble Book Store. His articles on sculpture appear in the Schuylkill Valley Journal in which he is a contributing editor. His wry writing has appeared in the Mad Poets Review, Apiary Magazine, Fox Chase Review,  and other journals.  Mike has performed in cafes, libraries, book stores and venues from Princeton’s Café Improv to Harlem’s Apollo Theater to Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Mike’s poetry can be found at http://mikecohensays.com/and in his book BETWEEN THE I’S E-mail:mikecsays@gmail.com,

 

Emiliano  Martin

A poet at heart who enjoys breathing rhyming thoughts in two languages has written thousands of poems and presented his verse in public as well as in print.

The audience loves the drama of his verse along with his interpretation. Often for nothing… sometimes to show off but always to satisfy his ego… the legend goes on.

Coming this Fall: The Odyssey Project

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowLittleMermaid2015FinalHigh-72Hedgerow Theatre School is preparing to take its students on the adventure of a lifetime as it embarks on “The Odyssey Project,” a yearlong developmental workshop. During the three-part course, students 12 and up will learn about Homer’s Odyssey, work together to create a performance piece based on the epic, and then present it on the historic Hedgerow stage.

At the core of this project is Hedgerow’s drive to train the creators of tomorrow. Since its foundation by Rose Schulman, Hedgerow Theatre School has sought to do more than train actors, but to also give its students skills that will help them in all areas of life as they learn to be independent thinkers, problem solvers and how to collaborate with others. Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed believes in teaching students how to “create for themselves” and “tell stories that have meaning to them.”

Under the guidance of teaching artist Penelope Reed and the Hedgerow Theatre Company, the students will take the tale of Odysseus’ 10-year journey home after the Trojan War and make it their own. Their creative voices will drive the process of developing a multi-generational performance work that will incorporate all aspects of theatre.

The Fall semester is the first of the series and is focused on learning Homer’s story and the theatre techniques needed to adapt it into a play. The next step in the Winter semester is taking that knowledge and writing a script. During the Spring semester, the students will rehearse, work on sets and costumes, and perform the play they’ve written.

Students can participate in all three sessions, or choose any that best fits their interests.

For more information or to enroll, visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org or call 610-565-4211. The classes will be held at the Hedgerow Farmhouse Studio at 146 West Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).