Tag: Bloechl

Douglas Adams – Master Jokester  

 

By Allison Bloechl

Douglas Adams is by far one of the funniest authors I have ever experienced and certainly one of my favorites.  His works are filled to the brim with wit, satire and humor.  One would think this would get boring over the course of radio plays and half-dozen books comprising his most famous work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  And it would, if it were just one style of joke.  But Adams was a master joke-teller and never let you see where the joke was going.  He was particularly adept at deadpan, satirical, and absurdist humor as well as the classic bait-and-switch.  As a towel-toting fan, here are some of my favorites of each.

Deadpan humor is just how it sounds – delivered mater-of-factly and without emotion.   The Hitchhiker’s Guide is chock-full of it. One of my favorite lines from both the radio plays and the novels – the creation of the universe.

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

Another example would be the overzealous man who disproves God and goes on to prove that “black is white and gets killed on the next zebra crossing”.

 

Satire mocks specific humans or humanity in general.  It is meant to point out flaws and weaknesses.  More often than not it has political or social ramifications.   One of the most obvious examples is that of Lady Cynthia Fitzmilton, and obvious dig at Margaret Thatcher.   We can tell how Adams felt about the former PM by making Fitzmilton ignorant, offensive and oblivious.  In the first fit (or radio play) she commends a construction team for bulldozing a town in front of the very people whose homes are being destroyed.

“And I must say immediately what a great honour and a great privilege I think it must be, for you, the people of Cottington, to have this gleaming new motorway going through your cruddy little village. I’m Sorry, sorry, your little country village of cruddy Cottington. I know how proud you must feel at this moment to know that your obscure and unsung hamlet will now arise reborn as the very splendid and worthwhile Cottington service station. Providing welcome refreshment and sanitary relief for every weary traveller on his way.

Absurdist (or surreal) humor is the deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviors that are obviously illogical.  Throughout the story, our heroes travel by the infinite improbability generator which makes the extremely improbable into reality.  Arms melt off, people become couches, and, perhaps most famously, missiles turn into sperm whales and bowls of petunias, keeping readers always guessing as to what the hell will happen next

And finally, we come to the bait-and-switch, my favorite type of humor employed by Adams.  The bait-and-switch requires the author to set up and the audience to invest in one particular narrative, where, at the end, the author reveals not what the audience expected.  Adams uses this technique frequently and to great effect.  In my favorite joke in the entirety of The Guide, our heroes travel across the universe to “the far side of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains in the land of Sevorbeupstry on the planet of Preliumtarn, which orbits the star Zarss, which is located in the Grey Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine” to see the last words of God inscribed on the mountain for all to see in thirty foot tall fire.  And they are “WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE”.  Adams sets up the narrative of an impossible quest for truth, knowledge and glory, and then pulls the rug out from under us and gives us a sign found frequently on out-of-order toilets.

Thers are, of course, just a few of my favorite examples of the wit and humor of The Hitchhiker’s Guide.  For more examples, come see Hedgerow’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy: Part Two this January!

Top Ten: Allison Bloechl’s Top Books

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowOrFarceFirstHigh-10Books are our gateway to the world. At Hedgerow, after 92 years of theatre we’ve amassed a lot of books, from original manuscripts from Eugene O’Neill to Executive Director Penelope Reed’s collection on leadership.
As we continue to work on our new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles and we bring Or, back to the stage tonight, we bring you some of our favorite books. Today, we peer into company member Allison Bloechl’s Top Ten books that shaped her world.
1.  “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
2.  “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut
5.  “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
6.  “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer
7.  “I am the Messenger” by Markus Zusak
8.  “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
9.  “The Last Dog on Earth” by Daniel Ehrenhaft
10.  “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

Podcast: How did you do that?

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowOrFarceFirstHigh-18We get the question all the time, “How do you memorize all those lines?” In Or, by Liz Duffy Adams, Fellow Allison Bloechl takes the answer to another level. In her role of Lady Davenant, Queen of the Duke’s Company, Bloechl unfolds a three page monologue and lays the comedic cornerstone of the piece. We sit down today to talk to her about how she pulled off this impressive feat.

Blog: Or, is Barrymore Recommended

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We are proud to announce that Hedgerow Theatre’s production of  Or, by Liz Duffy Adams is Barrymore Recommended. Adams’ sexy romp mixes history, farce, witty language and a political spy thriller as it tells of a day in the fascinating, multi-faceted life of pioneering female writer Aphra Behn (1640-89).

The production is directed by Aaron Cromie, a Philadelphia-based director, designer and performer, who served as the scene designer for On the Verge, and  Philadelphia actor/director/dramaturg Kittson O’Neill, who directed last year’s critically acclaimed On the Verge, returns to play Aphra.

Hedgerow Fellow Allison
Bloechl (Lucy in
Dracula) and  Company Member Brock D.Vickers (The Man in On the Verge) play all of the other roles, making lightning-fast costume and accent changes in true farcical style.

Aphra’s task is complicated by constant interruptions from her sudden new love, cross-dressing actress Nell Gwynne (portrayed by Bloechl); complicated royal love, the king (Vickers); and very dodgy ex-love, double-agent William Scott (also Vickers)—who may be in on a plot to murder the king in the morning. That means she has to try to save Charles’ life, win William a pardon, resist Nell’s charms, and launch her career, all in one night.Barrymore_Recommended_Banner_300x600

Aphra is a figure shrouded in mystery.  Next to nothing is known about her early life, which is possibly a direct result of Behn intentionally obscuring her own past from the public and from history.  Biographer Janet Todd said of Behn that she “has a lethal combination of obscurity, secrecy and staginess which makes her an uneasy fit for any narrative, speculative or factual. She is not so much a woman to be unmasked as an unending combination of masks”.  

In 1665, the Second Anglo-Dutch War broke out – one of four wars fought between England and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries – and Behn found herself hired by King Charles II (played by  to work as a spy in Antwerp under the pseudonym “Astrea”, with the intention of turning the British expatriate and son of a regicide William Scot into a double agent for the crown.  Evidence suggest that Behn’s attempt at intrigue failed, and Scot betrayed her to the Dutch.

The debt she managed to accrue resulted in a warrant for her arrest, which forced her to work for the King’s Company and the Duke’s Company as a scribe.  In 1670, her first play, The Forc’d Marriage, premiered, and she found great success by 1677, with the premiere of her comedy The Rover.

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowOrFarceFirstHigh-1Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Thursday and Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under are $20. Tickets for the previews on January 28 and 29 are $20 for adults and $15 for students. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Members can purchase half-price tickets for all shows. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.

For more information about the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre and other Barrymore Recommended productions, visit www.theatrephiladelphia.org. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

 

Blog: The “Merry” Monarch


charlesThe “Merry Monarch”, King Charles II,
had a strenuous rule.  After the execution of his father King Charles I at the end of the English Civil War, Charles II was declared king. However, the Commonwealth of England seized his power, leaving England without a monarch for the first and only time in its history.

The Cromwell Regime ran the Commonwealth from 1653-1659,  when Oliver Cromwell was named  Lord  Protector of England and ended with the overthrow of Cromwell’s son, Richard, in 1659.  Though Oliver Cromwell served as leader  of  a  supposed  English  Republic, he was afforded many of the same luxuries as the royals that predated him,  living in the same palaces and holding sole power over the government – even being offered the title of King, which he turned down.

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Brock Vickers will be playing Charles II in Or,. Photo from On the Verge

Cromwell’s rule over the Commonwealth brought about many reforms congruent with his Puritan beliefs, which included stricter observances of the Sunday Sabbath. No stores or manufacturers could do business on a Sunday, and even travel was forbidden without a writ from a justice attesting to its necessity. He instigated greater punishments for swearing, and charged adultery as a capital offense. Further acts were passed to punish actors, minstrel performers, fiddlers, gamblers, and other  “vagrants”  with the severity of rogues and thieves.

Despite the severity of the acts passed, much of the more drastic legislation went heavily ignored.  Juries refused to convict adulterers, and it is unlikely any capital punishments for the offense were ever handed down.  This resulted in Cromwell’s establishment of the Major-Generals in 1655; police magistrates whose purpose was to suppress crime and immorality in their respective districts.  Major-Generals achieved these goals by ending bear-baiting by killing the bears, or cock-fighting by wringing the necks of the roosters.  Though the Major-Generals were disassembled two years later, their acts had revitalized the new administration, which acted under Cromwell’s legislature for the rest of the Protectorate.

In 1660, Charles II was reinstated as king, and the Restoration period began.  It was under his rule that Charles reopened the theatres that Cromwell had closed, allowing the King’s and Duke’s companies to form, and permitting both companies to hire women for the first time.  Nell Gwynne, the young daughter of a brothel madam, sold oranges at performances at the King’s Company theatre.  Within the span of a few years, Gwynne became the lead actress and most famous comedic performer in the country.  Her fame earned her the attention of the King. Gwynne soon became one of his many mistresses and bore him two illegitimate sons.  Gwynne is hailed as a folk heroine. She embodies the rags-to-riches character who was born poor and fatherless under Cromwell’s strict regime, only to rise to fame and money through her talent as an actress, and later by becoming lover to the king himself.

Podcast: Kittson O’Neill or, Aphra Behn

Koneill14Kittson O’Neill is a Philadelphia based actor, director and dramaturg.  She was last seen on stage in Arcadia at The Lantern.  Her most recent directing credits include The Winters Tale for Shakespeare in Clark Park, Three Christs of Manhattan for InterAct (co-directed with Seth Rozin) and On the Verge for Hedgerow.  Other favorite Philly performances include: The Body Lautrec(Cromie and Tuomanen), New Jerusalem (The Lantern), Down Past Passyunk (InterAct), Behind the Eye (Gas & Electric), The Pride of Parnell Street (Act 2), Lidless (Interact), and The Early Bird (Inis Nua).  In NYC: You Are Dead You Are Here (HERE Arts), The Darker Face of the Earth (TWAS Productions).  And Regionally:Eggs (People’s Light & Theater), Maggie Rose, An Unhappy Woman & October 1962 (New Jersey Repertory), Jigsaw Nation (The Playwrights Center, South Coast Repertory, Curious Theater).  She has worked as a dramaturg for both Playpenn and The Kennedy Center.  She is the Artistic Associate of Interact Theater Company,  a graduate of The Shakespeare Lab and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s internship program. Up next she is directing A Knee That Can Bend , a world premier by Emma Goidel, for Orbiter 3 and reviving her performance in Being Norwegian for A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT!