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.