Hamlet, Our Artistic Director

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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, Penelope Reed, perform at Milwaukee Repertory, Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, and the Hedgerow.

Jared’s heredity showed itself when, at age five, his first appearance on stage was a hit.  Cast as a donkey in a nativity play, he recalls, “I was to bray once, and when my one line drew laughs, I went off script and hee-hawed some more.”

In his teens, Jared’s theatre experience included two small roles in Carol Churchill’s Cloud 9.  “I was an African-American servant in Act 1, and a girl in Act 2.” He also played a prime minister in drag in The Emperor’s New Clothes, and served as stage manager of A Delicate Balance at the Hedgerow, back when this position required huddling in a small space under the stairs.

Sure of his calling, Jared set his sights on the prestigious Julliard School in New York.  “I remember working monologues with Penn to prepare to audition.  During this process, it all started to click.  I felt for the first time an awareness of what I was doing that I hadn’t felt before.”

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.”

He continued, “I still keep a hand in Curio, directing one show per year, but I am now very happy to be artistic director here at the Hedgerow, where I have been an actor, company member, director, playwright, and light-and-sound technician.”

He added, “My experience at Hedgerow isn’t unusual. You learn every aspect of theatre here and how important every single one of them is.  If you’ve ever been a member of the Hedgerow company, for the rest of your life this is what theatre is. Everything else is measured against it.”

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.

In addition to coordinating an intricate web of marketing efforts ranging from group sales to summer camps, newspaper ads to community outreach, he is deeply involved in the nuts and bolts of running a theatre. Administration.  Programming.  Ticket pricing.  Signage in front of the theatre.   Repairs to the physical plant.  Brainstorming new approaches to audience building, while retaining faithtful ticket buyers of the past.  “I have to be both a big-picture guy as well as a detail-oriented leader,” Reed says.  

“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,” he 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.”

All the while, amidst this buzzing hive of activity is Reed.  Not only does he continue to act and direct, but he and his wife Keren, a native of England, are also raising two energetic small sons, Sebastian and Quentin.  

Already, it is very clear to the entire Reed family that one of the little boys is a born actor.  And so the family theatrical line continues, in Shakespearean fashion, to the sixth generation.