JARED REED (Artistic Director/Charles Condomine in Blithe Spirit) has been proudly associated with Hedgerow since 1990 and is now Producing Artistic Director. As an actor Jared has appeared nationally at Hedgerow, the Old Globe in San Diego, The McCarter Theatre, The Huntington, Cleveland Playhouse, The Walnut Street Theatre, and others. Jared also directs and writes at Hedgerow. Jared is a graduate of the Juilliard School. Love to Keren, Sebastian, and Q.
“Good art comes from clarity of vision” is not just a firmly held belief of recently named Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, but also the principle he plans to follow as he guides the Hedgerow Theatre Company into its 94th season.
As he takes the helm of the company from his mother, Penelope Reed, Jared continues her efforts in raising the standard of excellence at Hedgerow, but also seeks to make it a voice in modern American theatre.
Previously, Jared served as Artistic Director and Penelope functioned as Executive Director. Jared has now assumed the duties that fell under both of those titles. Penelope continues with a new title of Emeritus Directors, working in three of her favorite areas: outreach, community relationships and teaching.
As a member of the fifth generation of a professional acting family, there was little doubt Jared had inherited the theatre gene. He first became involved at Hedgerow as a teen in 1990, the year his mother was asked to bring her vast experience to the efforts of rebuilding after a disastrous fire. Jared went on to graduate from the prestigious Juilliard School with a degree in acting. He then worked in New York and at multiple theatres around the country before settling in the Philadelphia area to raise a family.
Jared considers the craft of theatre a “noble purpose.” It is the art form’s ability to unite the arts, “the synthesis,” that drives his passion for the medium. “The purpose of theatre today is the same purpose as it’s always been,” he explained, “to entertain, to educate, to grow our human experience, and to give hope.” It also provides “freshness, a universal truth seen in a new light,” he continued. “It comes from intellectual and emotional honesty, a deep and open personal truth.”
Founded in 1923 by actor/director Jasper Deeter, Hedgerow quickly became a home for artists of all disciplines, including such famous names as Eugene O’Neill, Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, Theodore Dreiser, and Wharton Esherick.
“When Hedgerow started, it was the only theatre around, really (the Walnut was more of a booking house at the time),” Jared observed, “so Jasper wanted to start a theatre for actors, a place where they could do their art outside the pressure of New York, and explore the kind of theatre they were interested in.”
Deeter fell in love with the intimacy of the 1840s grist mill-turned borough hall, the aesthetic appreciation of the Rose Valley community, and the opportunity to create a theatre with an artistic rather than commercial center. He foreshadowed the regional not-for-profit theatre movement, established a racially integrated company of resident, local, and visiting artists, and maintained an identity for Hedgerow as a seminal theatre for theatre artists throughout the country.
“Today, we exist as one of many Philadelphia theatre companies, and so we must make our way in this new landscape,” Jared commented. “We are still a training ground and a resident ensemble, and we are still exploring the shows that interest us, as well as the types of stories our audiences want to see.”
From its earliest days until now, Hedgerow has always been about uniting the actor and the audience. Deeter’s vision was one about simplifying the process and bringing the stories that needed to be told to the people who needed to hear them.
“Hedgerow’s strongest asset is its ability to connect with our audience,” Jared noted. “We are small enough that we can know our audience quite well, and they can feel they know us. It’s a personal experience when you come to Hedgerow. You know the actors on stage, you’ve seen them working in the lobby, or you’ve seen them in previous shows and met them. We pride ourselves on making each time an audience member comes to our theatre a unique experience they cannot get anywhere else,”
With adaptations such as The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Prisoner of Zenda, audience favorites like the Summer Farce Boeing Boeing, the Autumn Thriller Gaslight, and the A Christmas Carol, and the Russian drama Uncle Vanya, the 2016-17 season features a mix of new works and classic stories.
“When I pick a season for Hedgerow, I consider how the plays fit together,” Jared clarified. “For us, as a theatre that produces many different styles of plays year round, we look to marry this broad range of play styles with the artistic ensemble’s abilities.”
In the last year, he introduced a regional premiere with Liz Duffy Adams’ Or, and produced three new adaptations: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Servant of Two Masters, and A Christmas Carol. With each story, Jared has combined a classic story Hedgerow audiences love, such as Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, with a fresh new take from an adapter and director.
“I love new works, new art, new minds creating new plays to work with,” Jared reflected. “I have a belief that theatre is always at a crossroads and has to ‘reinvent’ itself for the current generation. What we hope to do is take our company of artists and give them material that fits their talents and is interesting to this particular audience.”
Hedgerow’s goals have not changed much from the time of Deeter. The Theatre Company seeks to create compelling works that inspire its audiences, as well as give Philadelphia theatre artists a home to create and collaborate. Though the tide of the time is changing, the mission remains the same: craft.
“Hedgerow still places its Fellowship program as one of its best assets,” Jared said in closing. “We’ve had so many artists come through here over the years, artists who went on to be vital members of the Philadelphia theatre community, and artists in America. The Fellowship’s purpose is to educate and guide young arts professionals as they transition into mature professionals. It’s great to watch an artist grow from their first show here to their last, and you can see them get their legs under them with each performance,”
Timeless jokes come to life on the Hedgerow Theatre stage when The Servant of Two Masters gets to work from May 26 to June 26 in director Aaron Cromie’s world premiere adaptation of the Carlo Goldoni classic farce.
Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed plays Truffaldino, joined by Hedgerow Company members Zoran Kovcic as Pantalone; Allison Bloechl as Beatrice; Mark Swift as Silvio; Susan Wefel as the innkeeper, Brighella; Brock D. Vickers as Florindo; Josh Portera as Dr. Lombardi, Silvio’s father, and also the second waiter and porter; and Shaun Yates as the first waiter and porter. The cast is completed with guest artist Sarah Knittel as the maid Smeraldina; and guest artist Madalyn St. John as Clarice, Pantalone’s daughter and Silvio’s betrothed.
“This form still works today because it’s how we still work today. Actors like Robin Williams are given a script and make it their own, they riff, they bring their own take to the character and give the world something new about it. We recognize these characters as a culture. We say, ‘That guy’s funny’,and, ‘That guy gets mad,’ so let’s put them in a room and see what comes out. The form lives on because it is so versatile and relevant,” said Reed.
Goldoni first wrote The Servant of Two Masters in 1746. His original version was based on improvisation, but he revised it to make the characters more complex and had it printed in 1753. It retains, however, many of the traditional characteristics of its origin, such as physical comedy and general ongoing silliness, enhanced by clever wordplay. “It’s cartoons….It’s Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. We recognize folly and we laugh at it,” said Reed.
The play opens at the home of Venetian merchant Pantalone with the celebration of his daughter Clarice’s engagement to her beloved Silvio. The festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Beatrice, a lady of Turin disguised as her twin brother Federigo–who was originally betrothed to Clarice before losing his life in a duel with Beatrice’s lover, Florindo–in the hopes of deceiving them long enough to collect the dowry owed to her brother. In the meantime, Florindo arrives in Venice after fleeing Turin to escape punishment for Federigo’s death. The title character is Truffaldino, a servant with an insatiable appetite who wants to double his intake of food, so he secretly takes jobs with both Beatrice and Florindo. He shuttles back and forth between assignments, receiving letters, messages, and money for “his master”, although he’s never sure which one they’re for. The escalating misunderstandings lead to multiple comical complications before all is resolved.
“Aaron and I were talking about what we could do with the talents of the company, and what we could create. It came up, with the success of One Man, Two Guvnors [Richard Bean’s acclaimed update of the play], ‘why not do the original Goldoni?’” said Reed.
The Commedia dell’arte (literally, “comedy of the profession”) was concerned mostly with tangled love intrigues and clever tricks to get money or outwit some simpleton. There were plotting maids, bragging captains, aged fathers and wily widows, all archetypes we recognize in an instant.
“People find truth done in a new and fresh way, funny… Comedy is truth you didn’t expect to have happen. I’ve always thought about it as ‘Comedy is tragedy viewed through the prism of time,” said Reed.
They’re directed by Cromie, who helmed the critically acclaimed Or, this past winter and has adapted the original Goldoni. The self-described multidisciplinary theatre artist is perfectly suited for the job, having studied at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in California, and been involved in three previous productions of this play.
“Funny is funny no matter the era. So we recognize the connections of comedy, improv, and mask work and the stories come from a place of love. I’ve dedicated a part of my creative life to it, and the stories you can tell are endless,” said Cromie.
The improvised Comedy of Masks, with a history that goes back to the days of ancient Rome, was frequently coarse and obscene. In the early eighteenth century there was an established English theatre and French theatre, but no real Italian theatre, as Goldoni himself observed. Goldoni made it his mission to give an artistic form to the spoken comedy.
“I’ve always had a love of this style. It’s the birth of cartoons: it’s fast-paced, it’s silly, it’s joyful and it’s meant to entertain people, and to celebrate our folly as human beings,” said Cromie.
The four traditional masks which appear in his plays are Pantalone, Il Dottore, Brighella and Arlecchino. Pantalone is the old Venetian merchant, wearing the dress of the sixteenth century. Traditionally he was senile and lascivious; Goldoni made him a model of respectability, while never losing sight of his comic character. Il Dottore represents the old man of the educated classes; he is a Doctor of Law of the University of Bologna, pompous and pedantic, and prone to bursts of irrelevant Latin. Brighella and Arlecchino come from Bergamo and represent the two types of servant, knave and fool. Truffaldino is also from Bergamo and is a variation of the typical stock character Arlecchino.
The Commedia style of improvisation required actors able to make a serious study of their parts; these disciplined comedians changed forever the standards of acting. The best of them stamped their characters with individuality, freshness and brilliance, and gave value to pieces which often were otherwise worthless. The Commedia dell’arte introduced the professional actor into Europe.
“Comedy is scientific. You have to have the timing and control over the audience to set up the beat, to set up the laugh. A painter has the luxury of painting what he or she feels, but with comedy we have to keep the audience in mind. We do the things that make us laugh, but we have to keep the pattern in mind: the content: the joke. We have to surprise them. We have to bring them truth at an extremity under pressure,” said Cromie.
Goldoni created a new form of comedy by taking the best elements of the improvised style of commedia dell’arte and adding witty dialogue in longer, more complete stories. Commedia dell’arte was primarily short scenarios with stock characters, featuring love triangles, mistaken identities, and disguises. It was the source of slapstick, with lots of physical comedy and an actual “slapstick” used to create a slapping sound.
As a boy, a toy theatre was the Goldoni’s favourite plaything, and plays his favourite reading. He was sent to school at Rimini and escaped back to Venice with a theatrical company; he later studied law at Pavia, but was expelled from his college because of a satire he wrote. He took his degree in law at Padua in 1731 and practised as a lawyer for some time at Venice. But the theatre always interested him more than the law, and from 1734 onwards he wrote regularly for the stage.
The importance of these typical stage characters, which enjoyed at least four centuries of popularity on the European boards, lies in the influence they had on the famous dramatists that followed. Already one can catch a breath of the Shakespearean comedies in the names of the heroes; and one can see that Molière, both as actor and author, learned much from this branch of Italian art. Its influence passed through Holberg into Denmark, where it became a powerful factor in shaping the romantic drama of a later age.
“It’s infectious and it’s fun. Maybe some kid will see this and want to make his own play, with his own jokes. So for the time being we’re telling the story and hopefully somebody will laugh and somebody will be inspired by what we do,” said Cromie.
Hedgerow Theatre’s The Servant of Two Masters Delivers “Timeless Comedy”
Director Aaron Cromie had two major goals when he set out to adapt Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, now playing at Hedgerow Theatre through June 26. First, he wanted to make the cast laugh out loud at the first read-through, knowing that their enjoyment would be incorporated into their performances, and then passed on to the audience. Second, he hoped to make the 1746 masterpiece accessible to present-day theatergoers.
Critics have universally confirmed that Cromie has succeeded in accomplishing both, saying he “reinvents the genre,” and praising the “broad, boisterous buffoonery,” “winking modern references” and “charming personal feel” of the “timeless comedy” brought to life by a “terrifically comedic cast, whose high energy is simply contagious.”
In writing the original, Goldoni was himself attempting to create a new form of comedy improving the then popular commedia dell’arte, which used improvised dialogue and short scenarios with stock characters and situations. He retained the four main character types, a merchant, a doctor, a knave and a fool, and the typical love triangles and mistaken identities, adding witty, written wordplay to longer, more complete stories.
The play begins at the home of Venetian merchant Pantalone where his daughter Clarice is celebrating her engagement to her beloved Silvio. She was previously betrothed to Federigo, who died while defending his twin sister Beatrice’s honor in a duel with her lover, Floridino. At least that’s what Clarice believes until Beatrice arrives disguised as Federigo, hoping to collect the dowry he was owed. Across town, Florindo has fled to Venice to escape punishment for Federigo’s death. Neither Beatrice or Florindo know the other is there, nor that they’ve both hired the title character, Truffaldino, a servant with an insatiable appetite who take two jobs to get more food. He shuttles back and forth between them, never quite sure which master should receive the various letters, messages, and money he’s given. It all adds up to a series of hilarious misunderstandings until the inevitable happy ending.
Hedgerow’s Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, who plays Truffaldino, suggested the show to Cromie. “Aaron and I were talking about what we could do with the talents of the company,” Reed recalled, “and what we could create using his talents as well. It came up, with the success of One Man, Two Guvnors (Richard Bean’s acclaimed 2012 update of the play), ‘why not do the original Goldoni?’ We love doing farce. The show is meant to be fun, and meant to be shared and laughed at by all.”
It was a perfect fit for Cromie, who studied at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in California and Antonio Fava’s School for Commeda in Reggio Emilia, Italy. “I’ve always had a love of this style,” he explained. “It’s the birth of cartoons: it’s fast-paced, it’s silly, it’s joyful and it’s meant to entertain people, and to celebrate our folly as human beings.”
With Reed on stage is a cast that a reviewer says matches his “mischievous, energetic brilliance.” Hedgerow veterans Zoran Kovcic and Susan Wefel play Pantalone and the innkeeper, Brighella, respectively; Allison Bloechl is Beatrice; Mark Swift i Silvio; Brock D. Vickers ss Florindo; Josh Portera is Dr. Lombardi, Silvio’s father, and also the second waiter and porter; and Shaun Yates, who also designed the set, is the first waiter and porter. They’re joined by guest artists Sarah Knittel as the maid Smeraldina and Madalyn St. John as Clarice.
Adult 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. 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 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).
- A Delaware Valley Holiday Tradition for 23-years
- Experience an 1843 story in an 1846 grist mill
- See the longest running production of Dickens’ Christmas classic in the area
- It’s the Most Beloved Christmas Story of all time (yes, we’re talking to you Ralphie)
- Come see where our modern holiday traditions began
- Longtime Company Member Zoran Kovcic plays Scrooge for his 15th year
- A new adaptation from Artistic Director Jared Reed
- Share the Holiday spirit (Don’t be a hum bug)
- See the Delaware County Community on stage
- Witness Charles Dickens’ authentic story live
- Complimentary Hot Apple Cider every night
- Makes a great gift to friends and family (naughty and nice)
- Participate in our Christmas Raffle featuring Hedgerow win glasses, Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, cookies, wine, and more
- Join kids and teens from around Delaware County as they make their debut on the Hedgerow Stage
- Hear all your favorite traditional Christmas carols on stage and from our children’s choir
- Purchase your very own Hedgerow Theatre Christmas ornament
- Enjoy our new takes of the Ghosts of Christmas in this year’s production (here’s a hint: really, big puppets)
- Meet and greet with the Hedgerow Theatre Company
- Costumes! (Halloween’s not the only time of year with ridiculously awesome outfits)
- Every night is a new production with actors and company members switching roles each night (The quick change from Fezziwig to Christmas Present is quite a joy)
- Bring your family to celebrate the season with our family
- And a partridge in a pear tree