Our Story (briefly): 90+ Years in the Making
“Long live the Abbey Theatre of Dublin! Long live the Art Theatre of Moscow! And long live the Hedgerow Theatre of Moylan, in the State of Pennsylvania!” – Sean O’Casey
AMERICA’S FIRST REPERTORY THEATRE
Hedgerow has its roots in the artisan/craftsman movement at the turn of the last century, when Will Price founded this movement dedicated to individual expression in contrast to the impersonal industrialization of society. Actor/director Jasper Deeter fell in love with the intimacy of the grist mill-turned borough hall, the aesthetic appreciation of the 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.
Beginning in 1923, Hedgerow launched the first resident repertory theatre that, over its 92 years, has become a magnet for many national theatre personalities, from Richard Basehart to Edward Albee; from Ann Harding to Susan Glaspell; to—more recently—Keanu Reeves and Austin Pendleton.
Visionary actor/director Jasper founded Hedgerow in 1923 as a haven for cutting edge artists of the early 20th century, and the theatre quickly gained a national and international reputation as a proving ground for such artists as Eugene O’Neill, Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, Theodore Dreiser, and Wharton Esherick.
A NEW VISION
In 1990, the Board asked alumna Penelope Reed to “come home” and apply her years of experience to bringing the Theatre back to full capability. Under Reed’s leadership, Hedgerow Theatre has boldly advanced its artistic premise as an actor’s theatre that celebrates ensemble throughout its organizational structure.
As Producing Artistic Director, Ms. Reed has reinstated Hedgerow as a major player in the national theatre scene. At the 2001 National Theatre Communications Group conference held in Philadelphia, Hedgerow was lauded as the Mother of all Philadelphia theatres. Note was made of several theaters that were spawned by Hedgerow. Examples include People’s Light and Theatre Company, Freedom Theatre and Curio Theatre Company.
Now, Ms. Reed steps into the role of Executive Director and her son, Jared Reed, takes over the role as Artistic Director for Hedgerow Theatre. As a member of the fifth generation of a professional acting family, there was little doubt that Jared Reed, Hedgerow’s Artistic Director, had inherited the theatre gene. He grew up watching his mother perform at Milwaukee Repertory, Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, and Hedgerow.
Jared majored in Drama at Julliard and worked at the Hedgerow during summers and holidays, graduating in 1995. “Although I had a career in New York after graduating,” he says, “that didn’t fulfill me as much as being part of a company. I moved back to this area and started Curio Theatre Company in West Philadelphia with Paul Kuhn and his wife Gay Carducci, both former Hedgerovians.”
As Artistic Director, Jared role involves selecting productions and directors, casting, hiring production professionals, and strategizing the Hedgerow’s artistic direction in programming as well as producing.
“It helps enormously to have some very seasoned staff members, as well as energetic young company members – the latter of whom all have to pitch in,” Reed says. “You will see residents of the Hedgerow House not only on stage, but also manning phones, painting sets, putting up posters, entertaining children at community fairs, coordinating social media, and assisting with all special events. Being part of a residential repertory theatre involves far more, everyone quickly learns, than delivering lines and hitting marks.”