Tag: guide

Painting the Colors of the Universe

When given the opportunity to return to an absurd, gleefully dark galaxy, artist Phoebe Titus jumped at the chance. After drawing last year’s first instalment of Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Titus again puts her pencils and brushes to use to create images from Adam’s words.  

“Drawing, painting, and creating are funny things.  They take a lot of time and a lot of work.  Actors probably have a similar experience when they’re in a role; you inhabit your work while you’re doing it, so it invades your whole life.  It’s fun to have a project where all the images are imaginative and fun…There are also some unique challenges to making images that get projected live behind people.  Brush strokes, movements, and colors look very different in that context and it’s fun to see it all come together,” said Titus.

Though all rules are bent in Adams’ Galaxy, it is the limitations of the medium that make the story powerful, and also give Titus the inspiration to paint.

“One of the best things about doing this project is trying to come up with what everything and everyone is going to look like.  How do I really get the character of Majikthise across?  What’s so magical about his thighs? What about the couch that comes alive?  What sort of couch comes alive? Is it cushy? Ratty? Modern? These are fun questions to ask!”

With these questions in mind, and many more, Titus creates the art of Adams’ Universe. It is a time and place reminiscent of the Twilight Zone if it were written by Monty Python. Hitchiker’s is an absurd look at reality through the guise of satire. By allowing the listener, or the reader depending on your favorite version of the story, to laugh at the banality of the Galaxy we are better able to laugh at ourselves.

To Titus, the genius of Douglas Adams’ writing is that he’s able to turn everything on its head:  Eternity is a joke, people are people, aliens are fundamentally flawed in the same way people are, and time plods on no matter where you are in it.

“Nothing and everything matters.  It’s comforting, almost cozy.  Then there’s the wonderful way he drags everything to its absurd logical conclusion, like the creatures who evolve several times a day because they’re so impatient, and how inconvenient that is for them.  The common theme is that everyone’s lives are annoying, full of idiots who don’t know what they’re doing, and destined to end at any moment.  Yet somehow he makes that all seem hilarious and endearing.”

Titus was first attracted to the “gleefully” dark humor of the material. “They get flung all over time and space while this planet or that gets exploded yet they’re all hung up on bickering with each other and trying to get a drink.”

Philosophy, stupidity, and the mundane mix as Adams’ worlds collide, reconfigure, and expire. With odd characters at every turn and clever turn of phrases lurking in every narration, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is bound to entertain young and old.

“My kids saw Part 1 last year and have been familiar with the stories for years, so that cat’s out of the bag; however, if I was to try to pinpoint what I’d like them to take away from this I’d want them to know that they shouldn’t bother trying to figure out the meaning of life and just focus on living.  Then I’d remind them to make sure they keep their phones clean and sanitary.  It’s the little things, you know?”

In part two, the characters visit the legendary planet Magrathea, home to the now-collapsed planet-building industry, and meet Slartibartfast. Through archival recordings, he relates the story of a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings who built a computer named Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Ford and Arthur find themselves trapped on primitive Earth as Zaphod makes a run for it.

 

Wisdom Through Madness

Wisdom through Madness

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Douglas Adams is one of the most recognizable authors of our time. Next to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and perhaps John Grisham or Stephen King, Adams brand is easily one of most memorable and enjoyable series to ever be produced.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a radio play that was adapted into a book that became trilogy in five parts that then became a television show which was adapted into a movie that did not quite live up to the hype that then returned to television. Somehow or another this story has ended up here at Hedgerow Theatre, and that is exactly what this fascinating ride is: a story.

No matter the form, no matter the method, the arc stays the same. Adams wrote in a witty, sardonic tone that equalled that of Charles Dickens. Each character seems to posses a quick whip or a beautiful simplicity, but either way it is Adams way with words that draw us in.

It is as if the Trickster god has stepped behind the keyboard, and is offering up sage wisdom through irony and puns.

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened,” writes Adams.  

If Adams is a bit of Loki or Anansi, his desire is to transgress. He breaks social taboos by placing them in far off vessels and allowing us to see the ridiculousness of a belief, crosses between worlds and time as a passenger unnoticed, and presents multiple contradictory truths.

It is as if Harlequinno or Truffaldino has taken hold of the pen and become the scribe. The Fool stands the test of time, whether he is in commedia or cartoon, because he places for us, a context of madness.

“Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans…” writes Adams.

If we look at another dramatic example from Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear’s Fool functions as the same role. Loyal and honest, he comments upon the king’s actions as well as functions as the king’s conscience. The Fool is able to point at the faults of the king, and through irony, sarcasm, and humor he eases the truth to protect and educate his friend.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be,” writes Adams.

In this example, we are Lear: mad, betrayed, heart-broken, confused, and lost. It is the Fool who writes to us and allows us the opportunity to see truth through comedy, to swallow the sugar-pill of knowledge with a smile. Adams zanny Universe offers us a chance to laugh at our own stupidity, at our own futility, and our own fragility.

Whether it is Loki or Harley, Adams or Mel Brooks, the clown speaks the truth that no one else can say. He plays the trick that forces us to see reality. He bends the laws in order to show us what things could be.
As we prepare to open The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Part 2, we prepare to imagine how the Universe might be, what aliens might be like, and how we would act if faced with utterly ridiculous circumstances.

Blog: Hitchhiker’s Final Weekend

HG2G 11x17 Illustrated2Space and time are relative, and on January 8, 2016, Hedgerow Theatre Company will set out to prove this point with Douglas Adams’ beloved sci-fi comedy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. With director Jared Reed at the helm of this production and the cast of the Hedgerow Theatre Company at his disposal, the Hedgerow stage will stretch to the ends of existence and back again with the help of artist Phoebe Titus.

“The great thing about this project is that there are such wonderful characters and descriptions of visual gags in it,” Titus said. “Working from the radio script is especially fun because it’s a blank slate and visuals can be reimagined from the ground up.”    

Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has since been adapted to other formats, including six novels, a film, and a television series. With numerous additions and re-writes over the years, it gradually became an international multimedia phenomenon. Hedgerow will bring Adams’ original radio play to the historic grist-mill stage, and use Titus’ artwork in storyboard fashion to prove that scale is everything.

“When it comes to creating visuals to go along with Adams’ world, there’s also an aspect of the specific time and place they’re coming from,” Titus explained. “I’ve been working to pull them all together in a way that is fun, relatable, and relevant. Visuals give context for stories.  They bring color and inflection to the stories. Stories have to be told, and that takes time.  Pictures help fix that time into one, clear thought. In this project, the goal is to have the pictures highlight, punctuate, and augment the narrative.”

The title of the show is the name of a fictional, eccentric, electronic hitchhiking guidebook to the Milky Way galaxy, originally published by Megadodo Publications, one of the great publishing houses of Ursa Minor Beta. The narrative of the stage play is frequently punctuated with excerpts from The Guide commenting on life, existence, and the frailty of human knowledge.

Throughout all versions, the series follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman.  The story also follows the adventures of other major characters: Ford Prefect (who named himself after the Ford Prefect car to blend in with what was assumed to be the dominant life form, automobiles), an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and a researcher for the eponymous guidebook; Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford’s semi-cousin, notorious awful dresser and the Galactic President; the depressed robot Marvin the Paranoid Android; and Trillian, formerly known as Tricia McMillan, a woman Arthur once met at a party in Islington and the only other human survivor of Earth’s destruction.

“One great thing about science fiction worlds is that they can hold a mirror to the good and bad things about our world,” Titus related. “The great thing about Douglas Adams’ world is that it holds a mirror to the humorously mundane, contradictory, and marginally annoying aspects of our world. I read the script several times, talked with my husband, David Titus (the technical director,) and we just had fun together thinking about the characters and visuals.The fabulous thing about coming to this project is that it’s funny; it’s fun to talk about, and fun to think about.”

The first radio series comes from a proposal called “The Ends of the Earth”: six self-contained episodes or “fits”, all destroying the Earth in a different way. While writing the first episode, Adams realized that he needed an alien to provide some context, and that this alien needed a reason to be there. Adams decided to make the alien a researcher for a “wholly remarkable book” named The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As Adams writing progressed, the Guide became the center of his story, and thus the series was born, with the destruction of Earth being the only holdover.

“Adams also makes excellent use of logical fallacies; bringing them to their most ludicrous conclusions with insightful little gags.” Titus commented. “It’s really funny to think about a tiresome, depressed robot, a bureaucratic, green alien, and just a regular guy whose house, then entire world, gets destroyed on a one particularly annoying day.”

Get ready for the Universe to be at your fingertips, as a comedic journey through time and space will land in Rose Valley in time for the near year; but be warned, this production ends as quickly as Dent’s time on Earth as it closes on January 17. 

Video: Mark Swift aka Arthur Dent

Hedgerow Theatre fellow Mark Swift sits down before Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and tells us his favorite part of the story. Ever wanted to hear the original script? Ever wanted to be a hitchhiker yourself? Come to Hedgerow and be a part of the Universe.

Blog: 42

Theatergoers are advised to stay calm and bring a towel as they are  taken on a tour of the universe at Hedgerow Theatre’s production of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from January 8 to 17.

Hedgerow will be using the British playwright’s original radio play, which first aired on the BBC in 1978, and launched a popular science-fiction comedy series of books that were later adapted into a TV series, a computer game and a movie. The story begins shortly before Earth is set to be demolished to make room for a galactic highway. Hapless Englishman Arthur Dent is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect, an alien from a small planet near Betelgeuse who’s a researcher for the title publication. They set off together on a journey through space, where they encounter a number of unusual characters.

It will be done as a multimedia spoken-word performance directed by Artistic Director Jared Reed. Hedgerow Fellows Josh Portera, Allison Bloechl and Mark Swift will read from the script, each playing several roles, with illustrations projected on the walls behind them and special sound effects to enhance the storytelling. The storyboard art was created by Phoebe Titus and animated by her husband, technical director David Titus. The Lansdowne-based couple own OrganicInOrganic Visuals, a production company.

“The great thing about this project,” Phoebe Titus explained, “is that there are such wonderful characters and descriptions of visual gags. I read the script several times, talked with David and we just had fun together thinking about the characters and visuals.” Adams’ words offered plenty of inspiration for her. “Douglas Adams’ world holds a mirror to the humorously mundane, contradictory and marginally annoying aspects of our world,” she added. “When it comes to creating visuals to go along with his vision, there’s also an aspect of the specific time and place they’re coming from.  I worked to pull them all together in a way that is fun, relatable and relevant.”

There are eight performances scheduled, on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.

All tickets for this special engagement are $20. To reserve seats or for more information, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media.)