Month: October 2016

Top 10 Halloween Songs Not Named “Thriller” Rock Edition

10. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo

9. “Black Magic Woman” – Santana 

8. “Hells Bells” – AC/DC

7. “Runnin’ With the Devil” – Van Halen

6. “Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival 

5. “Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones

4. “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC

3. “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath

2. “Dragula” – Rob Zombie

  1. “Bark at the Moon” Ozzy Osbourne

Bonus: “Lonesome Ghost”

Top 10 Halloween Songs NOT Called Thriller Part 2

10. “Day-o (Banana Boat Song)” Harry Belafonte

9. “Shake Senora” Harry Belafonte

8. “Somebody’s Watching Me” Rockwell

7. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” The Charlie Daniels Band

6. ” The Ghost of Stephen Foster” Squirrel Nut Zippers

5. “Hell” Squirrel Nut Zippers

4. “The Munsters”

3. “Love Potion Number 9” The Searchers

2. “Superstition” Stevie Wonder

  1. “Here Comes the Boogeyman” Henry Hall

Bonus: “Grim Grinning Ghosts” Haunted Mansion

 

 

Ask Amy

gaslight4We asked Chicago Tribune advice columnist and NPR “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” panelist, Amy Dickinson, to put on her early 20th century advice column thinking cap and answer some letters from the characters in “Gaslight” the way you might have expected to hear them answered in 1923 when our production is set. (You can read Amy’s actual advice to real people in over 150 newspapers around the country, or on her website: http://amydickinson.com/
 

Dear Amy,

I’m hoping you can offer some advice, because I’m desperate and really don’t know where to turn . Both of my parents are gone, my mother having died when I was child, in an insane asylum, and the rest of my family cut off all ties with me three years ago, after my marriage. I don’t feel comfortable talking to my husband about this, because when I’ve tried to broach the subject, he gets violently angry and says I imagine things. I know he loves me dearly and only wants the best for me, but I’ve become so impossible to live with, he’s at the end of his rope. I know I must be a terrible burden.

About six months ago, we moved to Philadelphia, and since then, things have gotten worse. I hear the strangest noises when I’m at home alone, as if someone is walking around upstairs, and my memory is suddenly playing tricks on me. I can’t seem to remember the most ordinary details or where I put things. Recently, Jack gave me a grocery bill to keep safe until he could pay the grocer, but when he asked for it back, it wasn’t where I knew I’d put it. This is on top of other mysterious disappearances around the house, such as pictures, rings, a brooch, keys. Everything points to me as the source of these problems. I’m so terrified that this is a sign of the illness that led to my mother’s insanity, and Jack himself has begun to say that living with me is a liability and that I need professional help.

I’m so afraid that if I see a doctor, he’ll insist I be admitted to the mad house and I’ll never see my family or the outside world again. My mother was my age when her illness overtook her. Am I over-reacting? I already take medicine for my mental lapses, but it really doesn’t seem to help. The worse I become, the harsher Jack is towards me. I want to save my marriage and have Jack love me the way he did when we were first married.

What should I do? Should I see a doctor and risk his diagnosis? Should I try to talk to Jack again and hope that he won’t storm and rage? I’ve even thought of confiding in the servants… but I don’t know if I can trust them.

Please help,

Truly Desperate

Dear Desperate: This is a test of your abilities as a woman and a wife. You must understand that your husband knows what is best for you. Servants are famously unreliable as confidants; their lowly station indicates inferior intelligence and character, and they are not to be trusted. No — in this situation, as in all things, you must turn to your husband for guidance. You have placed your faith and trust in him, as all wives must.

Dear Amy,

I’m afraid my beloved wife is losing her mind. She’s always been a scatterbrain, and I’m used to her losing and forgetting things. Recently though, her behavior has become cause for deeper concern. I know that all women are to some degree crazy, and it’s to be expected that they will overreact at even the smallest provocation. But my wife’s hysteria has begun to disrupt our lives beyond endurance. Just the other day, I asked her politely to bring me a handkerchief that I’d given her to mend and when she couldn’t locate it, she became extremely emotional– screaming and crying until she collapsed in a faint. It fell to me to comfort her, and of course, my handkerchief was forgotten.

No matter how reasonably and calmly I speak with her about this problem, in the end she always begins crying and refuses to have a rational conversation about it. She twists my words to make it seem as though I’m attacking her. I have tried everything to solve this problem. Kindness, patience and unimaginable self control have come to nothing. Of course, I love my wife, but I’m not sure how much more I can endure. Should I call a professional, or just call it quits?

Doting Husband

Dear Doting: When it comes to the weaker sex, a gentleman must expect an extra amount of sensitivity, given that they are subject to hysterics, vapors, and bad humors of all sorts.

As a married gentleman of a certain station, you should certainly expend all of your efforts to be patient with your beloved, but if her anger is uncontrollable and her illness incurable, it indicates that she lacks the feminine qualities necessary to make a suitable wife, making disposal not only necessary, but the correct course of action.

TOP 5 TIPS FOR YOUNG STAGE MANAGERS

Top 5 Tips for Young Stage Managers

Teresa Kozin is a second year company member at Hedgerow Theatre and a graduate of Neumann University in Aston, PA with a B.A. in Art and Theater Production. She has worked as a crew member at NU for The Laramie Project, backstage manager for WORKING and Almost Maine, and stage manager for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and PROOF. For Hedgerow, Teresa has stage managed the Barrymore Recommended production of Or, as well as The Servant of Two Masters and the current production of Angel Street (Gaslight).
1. Learn short hand – taking detailed notes is extremely important, but we don’t always have time to write every single thing down at that exact moment.
2. Details ARE important – don’t blow off minor details because they’re small. Everything counts when running a production
3. Time management is key – Our job is stressful and there is no getting around that, but if you manage your time properly you can make it just a little less stressful.
4. Stress IS a part of our job – As I said before, our job is stressful, but part of our job is to handle the stress for the director and keep things calm even when they may not be. To help with this you have to remember the positives. When things go wrong, don’t bombard the director with negative. Let them know what’s wrong and then say, but this is how we are going to fix it.
5. You are not a superhero – As much as we all want to be the one who takes care of and fixes everything, it’s not possible. That mentality is bad for your physical and mental health. Delegation is a big key to getting through the stress. You should have a well equipped production team and crew, utilize them.

Tales from Edgar Allan Poe

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowDraculaFinalHigh-23Each year Hedgerow Theatre Company creates a short play based on the life, stories, and poems of Edgar Allan Poe. This year we’ve expanded the cast to five, featuring the talents of Josh Portera, Allison Bloechl, Susan Wefel, Zoran Kovcic, and Mark Swift. Today, Mark Swift, who plays Poe in this years story, tells us what he enjoys about creating this work.
What is your favorite Poe story and why?
The Cask of Amontillado. It is the first Poe story I can recall studying in school. I was enthralled by the wickedness of Montressor.
What is your favorite thing about doing Poe?
I love exploring the various shades of Poe. Trying to find light amidst the seemingly ceaseless darkness is fascinating
What have you learned by adapting these tales and performing them?
Poe had a hard life, but fought admirably to persevere.
Why do you think audiences are drawn to Poe?
His works are classic and if not the first, certainly some of the best of his time. He was inventive and not afraid to explore the depths of human evil
What is the best experience you’ve had while doing this show?
Reworking William Wilson into a brand new scene has easily been the most rewarding aspect of doing Poe this year

Tales from Edgar Allan Poe

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowMurderRunFinalHigh-36Every year we bring the melancholy words of a mournful man and shed cold light on his dark crypt. The master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe comes to life for schools across the Delaware Valley with Hedgerow Theatre’s Tales from Edgar Allan Poe, created by the Hedgerow Theatre Company. Today, we check in with company member Allison Bloechl and why she loves to do this show every year:

1) What is your favorite Poe story and why?
I really love The Fall of the House of Usher.  It was my first experience with Poe and has been my favorite ever since.  It’s so good at setting the mood – at getting you to feel that something is wrong before you actually have that information as the reader.
2) What is your favorite thing about doing Poe?
Poe’s use of language to set mood is fantastic.  Everything he writes is poetry – even his personal letters.
3) What have you learned by adapting these tales and performing them?
We’ve all learned a lot about Poe historically, but I think what I take away from Poe is that there is beauty in everything, even the most ugly or sad.
4) Why do you think audiences are drawn to Poe?
Poe had the ability to capture beauty and pain simultaneously and morph them into something sublime.  I don’t think there’s another author out there who does it so well and that’s why people keep coming back to it.
5) What is the best experience you’ve had while doing this show?
Adapting the works together has been a real treat.  Knowing that we’ve all worked together to craft these stories is something that I think we’re all very proud of.

Top 10 Things Every Stage Manager Should Have in Their Kit

Top 10

Teresa Kozin is a second year company member at Hedgerow Theatre and a graduate of Neumann University in Aston, PA with a B.A. in Art and Theater Production. She has worked as a crew member at NU for The Laramie Project, backstage manager for WORKING and Almost Maine, and stage manager for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and PROOF. For Hedgerow, Teresa has stage managed the Barrymore Recommended production of Or, as well as The Servant of Two Masters and the current production of Angel Street (Gaslight).
Her Top 10 Supplies:
1. Extra writing supplies (#2 pencils, pens, highlights)
2. Ruler
3. Tape measure
4. Index cards
5. Extra paper (loose leaf or other)
6. Sewing kit
7. First aid kit (supplied with all products, feminine included)
8. Stop watch
9. Hair products (Bobbi pins, hair ties, hairspray)
10. Multi tool

Director’s Note: Cara Blouin

by Cara Blouin, director of Angel Street (Gaslight)

gaslight-2016-5I first learned about Patrick Hamilton’s Gaslight while working on another play Casablanca by Gaslight, a one-woman show in the Philadelphia SoLow festival created by Lena Barnard and Meredith Sonnen. Their piece reflected Meredith’s experiences working in the traditionally male field of construction. As she worked to build physical environments, her male colleagues used a different kind of tool to build an alienating working environment that made her doubt her competence and expertise. One of those tools was gaslighting.

The abusive tactic of causing someone to question their own experiences is painfully relevant in this moment. In a political world where stories hold more sway than facts, what we are told about ourselves impacts every facet of our lives. The political is personal, and it’s easy for many of us to identify with Bella, who believes that she is losing her mind. Although Bella is certain that she hasn’t played any pranks on her husband, he is so confident and his power is so absolute that she accepts what he tells her and asks only for tolerance and mercy in her madness.

Even for those who have never been gaslit by a romantic partner, most women can identify with being dismissed as too emotional, too sensitive or blowing things out of proportion when they report their feelings and experiences. It’s incredible that this play, written 80 years ago, captures a feeling so relevant today. I also find the story heartening.

In our production of Gaslight, the arrival of Detective Rough, who is able to corroborate Bella’s true experience is the antidote to her self doubt. To be seen, heard and understood makes it possible for Bella to trust her judgement and make her choice. In the same way, when Hamilton lays the tactic bare he allows us to recognize and reject it. It’s the power of this story, and all stories, that when they corroborate our experience, they set us free.

Interview with Detective Rough Brittany Holdahl

Hedgerow Theatre’s Gaslight adds an interesting element to the mix with Detective Rough being played by actor Brittany Holdahl. Brittany has been active as both an actor and playwright since 2008 collaborating with Luna Theatre Co., B. Someday Productions, Painted Bride, GDP Productions, the Zacherle Project, Rise & Walk Theatre Co., Philadelphia Dramatists Center, Secret Room Theatre, Save the Day! Productions, Represented Theatre Co., Smokey Scout Productions/Automatic Arts, otherWords Theatre Co., and American History Theatre, however, this is her first time at the historic Hedgerow Theatre Company. Check out her responses to a few questions below:

What makes a great play for you?
B: Raw and empathetic characters.  Evocative language and imagery that manages to also be concise. Atypical plots- Both in structure and content. The successful execution of creating a world is by far what I am a complete sucker for, though.  I am a fangirl of absurdism and surrealism: Cocteau, Ruhl, Brecht, and Enda Walsh are some of my favorite playwrights, and all of the other bizarre, tattered, overly-loved anthologies in my library are some of my favorite vacation spots that I just need to revisit every once in a while.  And my chest and skull just completely burst sometimes when there is no resolution or when a playwright leaves some items undisclosed- Loose ends are obviously always enigmatic and troublesome but there is something to be said about the frustration one experiences as an audience member and the seductive power one feels as a performer or writer that is so satisfyingly dissatisfactory. It’s also a testament to how life, in general, is just a completely sloppy and awkward, gorgeous mess.
What is one book every artist should read, one class every artist should take, or one play every artist should see?
B: Oh man. I have to choose just one book? That’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite kid…I want to put two books down; sorry to be a jerk and break the rules but I can’t decide between these two: “Creativity” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and “Incognito” by David Eagleman. Everyone should give these a read, especially folks who don’t acknowledge themselves as artists, because the truth of the matter is that everyone is an artist despite what society deems is an “artistic” career path- Accountants and lawyers and physicists and customer service representatives aren’t just smart; they have got to be creative, too!
“Creativity” because it goes into how creativity is not restricted to alternatively lifestyled individuals, rather it is a trait of all individuals because all humans have dialectic personalities: sophisticated naïvetes, extroverted introverts, prudish libertines, etc.
“Incognito” is a great follow up because it delves into the actual mechanics of how our brains make us creative, dialetic individuals due to our sometimes contrary expressions due to microkinesiology and our inner multitudinous nature due to the subconscious.
Both books are incredibly humbling and empowering because they embrace how one is an individual vessel containing multitudes yet they also make us acknowledge and appreciate how multitudinous everyone else is, too. And it’s all because we have these grey, wrinkled, meat-computers in our calcium helmets.
Why do you like Gaslight?
B: Oh God, for so many reasons! Seriously. This play is awesome and I am so honored to be a part of it. The play itself: I have always liked mysteries and crime dramas. My maternal granddad and his mother always loved mysteries, too, and some of my fondest memories as a kid were watching noir flicks on TMC with my granddad and asking him questions about the goings-on in those films. I also very much enjoy that Gaslight is a feminist period piece! That sounds almost like an oxymoron, but that’s really what it is!
I really enjoy our adaptation of it. I am so excited to be a female portraying the originally male character of Rough because one of the things that never 100% sat right with me about Gaslight was that a male was needed to validate a female’s observations and suppositions of another male. Bella is a beautiful, strong, incredibly smart character and she is so overly-due that acknowledgement! She isn’t hysterical; her world is actually horrifying, regardless of the gender of the individuals in her defense. Our Rough is an eccentric but equally intelligent and observant female whom goes through similar struggles as Bella just because of her gender identification. Rough’s competency is through the roof, but despite that, her life has probably been little else than constantly defending her convictions and proving her worth to her colleagues and superiors! I love our take on Gaslight because, even though this play is almost 80 years old so the shocking reveals in the plot aren’t so shocking anymore, there is still an element of trepidation for our audience because 1920s society doesn’t fully have Rough’s back, either: She could easily be seen as a hack or as a hysterical female, too, just because she is a female acting contrary to societal norms at the time; in Rough’s potential discredidation, Bella could be discredited. This execution adds a new dynamic to the play.
Who inspires you?
B: Humans, in general. It sounds like a cop out, but seriously: humans are great. Lately I’ve been really paying attention to the following humans: Titanic Sinclair, Chad Vangaalen, Alan Resnick, Nina Hagen, Siouxsie Sioux, Marina Abramović, Tom Waits, and Ian Curtis. Also my dad is awesome.
What’s a great story from a previous show you would like to tell? 
B: So, this is applicable to a few past shows: Whenever I’m in a show and my character is supposed to deliver a letter to another, for at least one show of the run, I will always- ALWAYS- draw a hand turkey and deliver that instead. Just to get the other character to try really hard not to break. But now that I’ve confessed that, I will need to think of something else for future productions.

Spoiler Alert: Rough doesn’t write or deliver any letters in Gaslight, so there will be none of my exquisite hand turkeys in this production.

Blog: The Psychology Behind Gaslight

horrorliveshereBlog by Angel Street dramaturg Josh Portera

Out of the popularity of the Ingrid Bergman film adaptation of Gaslight in 1944, a new psychological term was born.  “Gaslighting”, named so due to the dimming of the gas lights being one of the main sources of Bella’s doubts within the play, came into public use to describe the particular brand of psychological torture and mental abuse that Mrs. Manningham is subjected to over the course of the play at the hands of her husband.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines gaslighting as “an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power[…]. Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.”  When an abuser decides to gaslight their victim, they use convincing lies about the past to persuade their victim that their memory, perception, and sanity are not to be trusted.

Gaslighters use these falsehoods to bring doubt into their victim’s idea of what has happened in the past, as well as finding evidence to prove how they have previously behaved wrongly as support to a claim that they are behaving wrongly at the present time.

Psychology lists five different tactics as signs of gaslighting.  The first is Withholding, where the abuser pretends not to understand or refuses to listen to what their victim is saying with phrases like “I don’t want to hear this again”, or “you’re just trying to confuse me”.  The second tactic is Countering.  In Countering, the abuser bring’s the victim’s memories into question, even when their victim is remembering an event correctly, e.g. “You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”  Third is Blocking/Diverting, here the abuser changes the subject or questions their victim’s thoughts by claiming they’re imagining things, or they received a crazy idea from a family member.  The fourth tactic is Trivializing: a way for the abuser to make the victim’s feelings seem unimportant by saying things like “you’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”  The final, and one of the most common tactics, is Forgetting/Denial.  The abuser pretends to have forgotten promises or statements made to their victim, or denies that the promise was ever made.

It wasn’t until Gas Light hit stages and movie screens that this form of mental manipulation gained any attention as a type of psychological abuse. Jack Manningham’s toolkit for driving Bella out of her mind brought awareness to the way domestic abusers could manipulate their victims into questioning their own sanity.

If you think you may be the victim of gaslighting, or any other form of mental, emotional, or physical domestic abuse, please contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or online at www.thehotline.org for resources or assistance.