At Hedgerow Theatre School, we’re always very excited to welcome new students into our theatre family. We love knowing that we are going to be able to see children develop and grow their craft. It is so wonderful seeing other kids enjoying something we all love so much, and it’s so great that we get to have diverse casts of all ages. For all we know, we could be seeing these little 6-year-olds on movie screens, television screens, and big stages someday! However, in addition to our newest actors, we also have Theatre School students who have been with us for years. Some young actors have even been with us for decades, and are, in fact, not very young anymore. Elder Theatre School members and alumni continue to stick around and teach the younger actors, helping them to grow in their talents and watching as they discover their love for theatre, just as they once did. I, Gabby, have interviewed some of my peers who have been with Hedgerow since they were tiny, and are now teenagers, essentially having the opportunity to grow up at Hedgerow Theatre.
How long have you been with Hedgerow?
Anna: about 9-10 years
Michael: 11 years
Emma: 10 years
Talen: 13 years
What was your very first show?
Anna: When I was in kindergarten and first grade, I just did camps. My first camp was Ping and the Pea. My first onstage show was Godspell in 2nd grade.
Michael: Oliver was my first proper show.
Emma: Charlotte’s Web
Talen: My first show was Jungle Book.
What was your favorite thing about being able to grow up at Hedgerow?
Anna: Making friends. I am an introvert and talking to people is hard for me. When I went to Hedgerow, they were very welcoming and kind. I got to meet many kids/campers and grown ups/fellows.
Michael: Probably the fact that it allowed for a strong sense of community and friendship between people I would have never met otherwise.
Emma: That I got to make forever friends and grow up in a theatrical, diverse environment.
Talen: Making friends and knowing that they will be my friends for a lifetime.
How has Hedgerow changed since you first started? How has it improved?
Emma: There are now different spaces for the kids to perform.
Talen: When I came to Hedgerow I was 4, I stuttered a lot, and I was very shy. It helped me not to stutter and now I’m the most outgoing person ever.
How do you expect Hedgerow to change in the future?
Anna: Hopefully Hedgerow will have more space and more fellows. Like Pen said, hopefully there will be heaters for the house in the winter.
Michael: Who can really say?
Talen: If anything, it’s just going to be a great place where everyone knows everyone. If it’s your first time at Hedgerow there are so many people that will make you feel like you’ve been there forever.
How has Hedgerow impacted your life? How would things be different today if you had not grown up with Hedgerow?
Anna: I met one of my best friends at Hedgerow in 3rd grade during Through the Looking Glass. If I hadn’t met him, I would be completely different and just lost in life.
Michael: I’ve made some pretty good friends from Hedgerow, but it was also a big part of developing myself as an interesting person as well as basic moral stuff, since I was very young when I started.
Emma: I have learned a lot of technique for my future in theatrics. I probably would not have had such a fun time as a child and wouldn’t have found my hobby.
What lessons have you learned from growing up around Hedgerow?
Anna: I was very separate from everyone else and Hedgerow taught me to work as a team.
Michael: Too many to remember.
Emma: I have learned to be patient and to not make everything a competition.
Talen: When I was at Hedgerow as a younger kid, I would always get excited to see my parents in the audience of the showcase we would present at the end of the camp. There were times when my parents couldn’t be there or only one could be there, but it hurt the most when neither of them could be there because of work. So when I see kids upset, I understand how they feel and I can comfort them because I’ve felt their pain before. But the best times are when the parents are there and the kids have a big smile on their face.
What do you enjoy about being able to help the younger kids around Hedgerow the way you were helped when you were young?
Anna: I love helping the kids because I specifically remember during Godspell, I wouldn’t hold Carl Smith’s hand. So, he was like, “What’s in your hand?” And I said, “Nothing.” and opened my hand. Then he quickly grabbed my hand. Then during that moment I was like ‘Oh my god these people are really cool and smart!’
Michael: It’s nice to see the younger kids learning not just acting but also all of the little things I learned through Hedgerow when I was younger.
Emma: I really love being a counselor with the really little kids in the summer so I can teach them how to act on stage and in life. When I was younger, there weren’t teen counselors yet.
Talen: I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to ask questions, and it’s okay to say I don’t know.
What are some reasons why you would suggest participating in Hedgerow as a child, and why would you recommend it to children and their parents?
Anna: You will make very close friends and I’ve never gotten into a fight there because “We save the drama for the stage.”
Michael: I’d say it’s one of the best ways to be part of a tight knit and positive community for both children and adults.
Emma: Hedgerow is a great experience for younger kids who want to make friends and get experience in theater.
Talen: I would suggest Hedgerow because it just has a family feel. Everyone is just so friendly and welcoming, and with the variety of different ages, you’re bound to learn something new everyday. When I think of Hedgerow, I think of family, friends, and endless amounts of fun.
We love every child who studies with us at Hedgerow Theatre School, and we all love to help them learn and grow in their craft! It is a great opportunity to be able to raise little performers, and we love knowing that some of them will stay with us for very long, just as my friends above have.
Gabby Harrison, Anna Tang, Michael Tang, Emma Nederostek, and Talen Draper