Tag: Brock

Blog: The World’s Greatest Detective

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Blog by Brock D. Vickers

Riddle me this, “Who is the world’s greatest detective?” Born out of the mind of Edgar Allan Poe, the detective story has captured audiences’ minds since its inception. Putting the pieces together and solving a puzzle is what draws us in. Are we smart enough to solve the riddle? Can we figure out the mystery before “The World’s Greatest Detective?”

The title, shared by the likes of Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or the enigmatic “L,” is like a challenge issued to the audience. Each of these characters has captured the limelight at some point, whether it is with BBC’s fantastic productions of Poirot or Sherlock, or even animé’s binge-watched Death Note.

Yet, since Auguste Dupin there has been one detective that has attracted more attention than any other. His resources are limitless, his story tragic, and his rogues’ gallery is unrivaled.

He was born for “Detective Comics,” and has been referred to as “The Dark Knight,” “The Caped Crusader,” and of course “The World’s Greatest Detective,” but is most commonly referred to as Batman. Whatever you know him as, or wherever you know him from, Batman is proof you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.

The Dark Knight is an American icon. He’s the only human among the gods of the Justice League (and also the man who destroys it). He’s taken down monstrous deities, tyrannical conquerors, terrorists, and every form of supervillain from those with one bad day to those with a lifetime of bad days. He’s the man who defeated Superman: “I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you.”

In 1939, after the success of Superman, Action Comics prompted editors of National Publications (the future DC Comics) to request more superheroes. In response, Bob Kane created “the Bat-Man” with collaborator Bill Finger to contrast the original golden boy. Created as a combination of Zorro, Dracula, and the Shadow, Kane and Finger’s creation has become one of the greatest comic-book characters to ever don a cape and cowl.

After witnessing the death of his parents, American billionaire playboy and philanthropist Bruce Wayne, swears vengeance against injustice and trains himself physically and mentally, crafting a bat-inspired persona to instill fear in criminals.

Unlike most superheroes, Batman possesses no superpowers; rather, he relies on his WideEyedStudiosHedgerowChristieFinalHigh-129 (1)intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, detective skills, and indomitable will to defeat his foes. Like Sherlock before him, Bruce sharpens his senses to the point of medical precision and makes himself more than man. He creates a symbol people can believe in.

Batman gained his own comic-book title in 1940. Though more of a superhero now, Batman started out as a true detective.  As the decades rolled on, new interpretations of the character evolved into the idea he is today.

The late 1960s Batman television series starring Adam West used a camp aesthetic. The dark soul of the character returned in 1986 with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, and Warner Bros.‘ live-action Batman feature films. From Tim Burton and Michael Keaton’s rubber-suited Knight to Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s realistic anti-hero, the Caped Crusader has become the most profitable hero of all time.

The character has set the standard for video games with Rocksteady’s Arkham series, as well as provided the model for how to make an action cartoon with the Emmy Award-winning television show Batman: The Animated Series.

He ranks second on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes (behind the honorary position held by the original superhero, Superman), and yet holds no powers. The secret to Batman’s draw is simple: he’s human. He has been broken by Bane and tempted by Poison Ivy, but ultimately if the Dark Knight were to miss his grapple, or be clipped by an Omega-Beam, he would go down for the count. He is fallible and mortal, just like us. There is no token weakness like wood or kryptonite, because every time the Dark Knight rises he is vulnerable.  

After the Green Lantern flies away to save the galaxy or Flash reverses time, what are we left with? It is Bruce’s humanity, his weakness, that draws us in. He is a flawed orphan, who has dedicated his life to an insurmountable task. The very idea of Batman is the essence of character.

In the theatre, we love flawed people. We do not go to the theatre to see people live through a good day, or watch them as things go right. We go to the theatre to see what people do while under duress. What fun is there is watching someone cope? We want to see the struggle. Bruce gives us the struggle. We know that every time he goes out on patrol, he is risking it all.

Batman is the most feared superhero of all, because he represents the absolute pinnacle of human achievement: the complete package and the ideal of what we all could be.

Always five steps ahead of his foes, he’s a brilliant detective, a world class athlete, and a master strategist, but in his crusade against injustice, there are two questions that drive this character: how far will he go and can he maintain his humanity?
Something is always at stake for the Dark Knight, and the beauty of the canon of stories from the earliest iterations by Kane and Finger to the most recent rendition by Zack Snyder, our hero is always in conflict. He has lost his parents, his lovers, his allies, his friends, and in some cases he’s even lost his own mind, but each and every time we see Batman pull through, we feel the catharsis of our own humanity. We believe in ourselves, because if Batman can do it, then why can’t we?

Podcast: Making a Murder at Hedgerow

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowDraculaFinalHigh-57It takes a lot to make a murderer, especially one that is supposed to entertain, delight, and mystify. Yet, Dame Agatha Christie always seemed to be up to the task.  In 1920 with the release of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Christie has been tantalizing us with mysteries ever since and allowing the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot to solve them.

In this week’s podcast, Ned Pryce, Mark Swift, and Josh Portera circle up to talk about the creative process of creating a mystery and the work going in to this world premiere adaptation of Christie’s first murder mystery.

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: Aaron Cromie

aaronDirector Aaron Cromie sits down with Brock Vickers after rehearsal to talk about inspiration and the most important lesson to pass on to young artists. Previews for Or, by Liz Duffy Adams begin January 28 with opening night set for Saturday January 30.

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!