Tag: reed

Penelope Reed to be Awarded Barrymore October 30

In Philadelphia, no one has started more careers than Penelope Reed. Now more than 25 years after starting her career with Hedgerow, she will be honored by Theatre Philadelphia’s Barrymore Award for a Lifetime of Achievement for her service to Hedgerow Theatre Company, “The Mother of All Philadelphia theatre companies,” as well as the Philly theatre community at large.

Penelope Reed as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit with Stacy Skinner.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a Barrymore award designed to honor “individuals who have made substantial contributions to the life of the Philadelphia theatre community over a significant length of time.  Nominees can be from any area of the theatre field or philanthropy.”

Named in honor of the famed Philadelphia-based first family of theatre, the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre have served as Philadelphia’s professional theatre awards program since 1994. The Barrymore Awards are a nationally recognized symbol of excellence for professional theatre in our region, raising the bar for the work produced by local theatres and individual artists while increasing public awareness of the richness and diversity of our city’s thriving theatre community. Each fall, theatergoers, and artists come together to celebrate the theatre season and honor that year’s Barrymore nominees and award recipients at the annual Barrymore Awards Ceremony.

“We look for candidates whose work has been a vital part of the Philadelphia theatre community, whose work has made the community richer in some way and who has influenced generations of artists, audiences, and companies,” said Jennifer Childs, Chair of the Lifetime Achievement Award Committee.

Each year nominations are solicited from the community.  Nominees do not nominate themselves and, very often, do not even know they are being nominated.  There is a panel of artists from the community who then review the nominations and decide on an honoree.

Ms. Reed as Madame Arcati

“We chose Penelope for several reasons…in looking at that list of past winners, so many of them got their start and/or worked at Hedgerow.  It has been one of the cornerstones of this community before there even was a theatre community.  Penelope’s leadership was integral to carrying forward the legacy and vision of her mother.  This felt like the right year to honor her as she recently transferred that leadership role to her son Jared.   That theatre and all it stands for is a wonderful legacy,” said Childs.

Previous winners include Albert Benzwie, Kitty Minehardt, Doug Wing, Frank CP McGlinn, John Allen, Adele Magner, Kaki Marshall, Marcia Salvatore, Tom McCarthy, Louis Lippa, James J. Christy, Robert Hedley, Carole Haas Gravagno, Dolly Beechman Schnall, Dugald MacArthur, Ted and Stevie Woolf, Harry Dietzler, Jiri Zizka, Ceal Phelan, Carla Belver, Johnnie Hobbs Jr., and Sara Garonzik.

“The one hand that selflessly influenced so many theatre artists in the Delaware Valley during this epoch… You’d be blessed to know her. A humble legend.  Penelope Reed, all the love!”

–  Kirk Wendell Brown, Actor and Friend

Ms. Reed’s illustrious career and Hedgerow connections extend back into her youth.  A fourth generation professional theatre actor on her father’s side, Reed worked in her teens playing many roles locally with the Wilmington Drama League, the Brandywiners, and at the Robin Hood Equity Summer Stock Theatre.  After winning a full summer acting scholarship to Colorado’s Perry-Mansfield School of Theatre and Dance, she began her senior year in High School, and her family moved to Rose Valley.  Her mother, Janet Kelsey, would become a cherished member of the Hedgerow company as leading actress, director, teacher, business manager, managing director and long-term board member at Hedgerow.

In November, a month after her father, Jared Reed,  died, Ms. Reed and her mother Janet Kelsey began studying Advanced Acting with founder Jasper Deeter.  Miss Reed has had the great fortune over the years to study with significant Hedgerow instructors, including Richard Brewer, Delores Tanner, Ralph Roseman and Rose Schulman.  

Little did Ms. Reed know that many years later, she would return to the “intrepid HedgerowTheatre” as its Producing Artistic Director, reviving the theatre to national prominence and, like Jasper himself, creating new theatre artists along the way.

“When Penn first arrived at Hedgerow as the leader in 1990, I was saying whenever tech week and hard work for the season of mainstage plays rolled around, “Hell week at Hedgerow High” in a frustrated manner! Penn would say positively, “Week of opportunity!” I knew I was in for a great ride!”

Susan Wefel, fellow actor, board member, and company member

At 18 with her union card in hand, she headed off to four years at Carnegie Institute of 

Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). In Fall 1963, during her freshman Thanksgiving break from college, Ms. Reed came home to Rose Valley for the holiday, expecting rest and relaxation; however, after the actress playing Cora in Iceman Cometh had been an accident and couldn’t play. The company sought Penelope to learn the part in an afternoon.

With director Louis Lippa in the wings coaching her between scenes, Ms. Reed performed the part without a book.  Hedgerow flew her in the next and final weekend to finish the run.  Carnegie training introduced a technique to complement the extraordinary Hedgerow approach to truthful acting.  After four challenging and glorious years Reed graduated with a BFA honors and received the RCA/NBC most valuable senior award.

Immediately after college, she took leading roles Cleveland’s Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, followed by a 12-year tenure as leading actress, director, teacher and playwright at The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

While there she played such roles as Blanche Dubois in Streetcar Named Desire, the title role

Ms. Reed as Madame Aracti

 of Mary Stuart, Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days, Helena in A Midummser NIght’s Dream and many other roles. During the time she taught acting and speech at the University of Wisconsin,  founded both the Pac Players and the Summit Festival Theatre, and served as Alverno College Drama Department Chair and Director of the Robert G. Pitman Theatre.

She immersed herself in civic endeavors, reaching out to inner-city youths, guiding teachers on the infusion of theatre to enhance existing curricula. While in Milwaukee she branched out to play Laura in The Glass Menagerie with Maureen Stapleton in Chicago’s Drury Lane Theatre, which brought the Williams classic to Philadelphia’s Playhouse in the Park.  While in Milwaukee Reed received her MA in Speech and Directing from Marquette University.

She has directed over 100 plays and taught at Carnegie-Mellon, Grinnell, the University of Wisconsin, Marquette University, and the Princeton Theological Seminary.  Ms. Reed has served on the Wisconsin and New Jersey State Councils on the Arts, where she has been instrumental in the development of pilot programs in theatre education.

As a leading member of the McCarter Theatre for six years, she played such parts as Hannah Jelkes in Night of the Iguana, Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, Winnie in Happy Days  she started the Shakespeare Summer of teens, joined the Princeton Theological Seminary speech faculty, and served as master Acting instructor at the theatre.  

She also started New Jersey Dept. Ed. pilot projects for teachers teaching theatre arts in basic curricular studies.in theatre arts. In 1985 she began as Director of the Allan P. Kirby Theatre and Drama Chair at The Lawrenceville School, where after 12 years Vanity Fair chose Hedgerow as the top prep school for theatre in the country.  She had also served as Chair of Drama and director of the Robert G. Pitman Theatre at Alverno College.

“To work with Penny, one is constantly astonished at her unflagging energy, relentlessly fertile mental searching, and most of all, her untainted positivity. For Penelope Reed, whatever it is is always possible, and always excites her in the effort. Congratulations”

– Tom Teti, friend, and collaborator  

After the devastating fire of 1985, Ms. Reed participated in the company’s and community’s efforts to restore the theatre, including presenting her performance of Women of Heart that opened the shell of the theater in December 1990, serving as board-appointed Artistic Consultant in 1991 and in 1992 Producing Artistic Director 1992.

Ms. Reed as Madame Aracti

With her mother, long-time Hedgerow icon, Janet Kelsey, returning as business manager, husband as general manager, and the industrious, creative company, Ms. Reed took the helm of Hedgerow, bringing her years of experience to Hedgerow to build a company with intent to return the theatre back to its National standing as a theatre of excellence and an incubator of talent, works of art and spawning theaters.

Crucial to the task was bringing forward the next generations of a long line of actors and educators at Hedgerow, as, from its roots, the theatre has focused on the training and creating of future actors.  

The Collaborative Company has been able to assemble an amazing series of passionate company members, board members, community leaders, audience members and patrons, who brought about the rebuilding of the theatre, the  reigniting of the educational programs and the strengthening of the company mindset of Hedgerow by reinvigorating the emerging artist fellowship program, the institution of professional theatre artists to work with emerging artists and major Philadelphia veterans working under both Equity Guest Artist and and SPT contracts.

Hedgerow in the city featured a three-play repertory including the World Premiere of Richard Wilbur’s Don Juan in Hell; Love Letters with Suzanne Roberts; and The Bell of Amherst.  Later, The Lives of Bosie, winner of the Barrymore Award for Outstanding new play, moved from Hedgerow to Philadelphia.

Ms. Reed pictured with her son Jared Reed as well as fellow actors Michael Fuchs (left) and Stacy Skinner (right)

Ms. Reed has also twice made the foray to Bristol Riverside Theatre to play Gertrude in director Douglas Campbell’s Hamlet and Leading Lady in Moon Over Buffalo.  Reciprocating, Bristol’s Keith Baker directed his wife and Barrymore nominee Jo Twiss in Dancing at Lughnasa, and Susan Atkinson directed Demetria Bailey as Ethel Waters in His Eye is on the Sparrow.  

International playwright and director, Nagle Jackson, annually brought a new play to the Hedgerow stage. For an anniversary writing  Kafka in the Hedgerows, featuring Jared Reed, Penelope Reed, Zoran Kovcic, Susan Wefel and fellows in a world premiere celebrating Hedgerow’s beginnings.

In short, Hedgerow changed from a burned-down shell of a building with a great history, back into a professional theatre with an identity both for theatre production and education.  Penelope believes the collaborative efforts created a platform that has led to Hedgerow’s current dynamic thrust under the Artistic Leadership of Jared Reed. In its 95th year Hedgerow is alive building its tradition of “Making a Scene since 1923”.

“I love directing Pen. She is one of those wonderful actors who drives you crazy in all the right ways – constantly questioning choices and moments and words, always digging deeper and pushing farther. When an actor is talented, it’s easy for them to coast on their gifts and experience. Penn is a shining example of the rigor and drive to excellence we all want to have and preserve in ourselves as artists. Plus she’s a lovely human and she laughs at all my jokes. I’m delighted the community is recognizing her years of service to young artists and her lifelong devotion to the craft of acting!”

Kittson O’Neill, director of On the Verge and Uncle Vanya

Today, Ms. Reed is a Director Emeritus at Hedgerow Theatre, serving as both an actor and an artistic consultant. The company is now led by her son, Jared Reed, who is following his mother’s example and strengthening the core company of the theatre.

Ms. Reed featured with her grandchildren Sebastian and Quentin Reed, her son and Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, and her mother Janet Kelsey

Ms. Reed is appearing as Madame Arcati alongside her son until October 29 in the fall thriller, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

For more information email dmclellan@hedgerowtheatre.org,  call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media). Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. Shows are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

 

Penelope Reed

​PENELOPE REED,(Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit), studied with founder Jasper Deeter before Carnegie Tech (BFA in acting) and Marquette University (MA in speech and directing). As leading actress at the Milwaukee Repertory, McCarter and Hedgerow theatres, Penelope for decades has chosen to weave together acting, teaching, directing, civic service (e.g. Rose Valley, Rotary Club, Delaware County Historic Society), and administration (e.g. Alverno College, Lawrenceville School and Hedgerow). She loves her “ladies” (from Blanche Dubois to Eleanor of Acquitaine).  However, her favorite role is watching Hedgerow’s growth as a dynamic regional force.  Penelope will receive the Philadelphia Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award at the Merriam Theatre on October 30th.  Special thanks to generations of theatre goers, practitioners, supporters and family members who kept Hedgerow going. To Artistic Director Jared and my Zoran who has devoted decades of excellence in all areas of the theatre. Finally to Sebastian and Quentin, who fill us with wonder.

Jared Reed

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.

Penelope Reed Wins the Theatre Philadelphia Lifetime Achievement Award

In Philadelphia, no one has started more careers than Penelope Reed, and now 25 years later she will be honored by Theatre Philadelphia’s Barrymore Award for A Lifetime of Achievement for her service to Hedgerow Theatre Company, “The Mother of All Philadelphia theatre companies,” as well as the Philly theatre community at large.

Her roots with Hedgerow stretch back into her youth. Along with her mother Janet Kelsey, Ms. Reed studied under Jasper Deeter, the founder of Hedgerow Theatre, in 1962, at the age of 17. Little did she know that many years later she would return to the “intrepid Hedgerow Theatre” as its Producing Artistic Director, reviving the theatre to National prominence and, like Jasper himself, creating new theatre artists along the way.     

A leading actress for 12 years at the Milwaukee Repertory Company, Ms. Reed was also a director and a playwright. As a leading member of the McCarter Theatre for 9 years, her duties included that of Master Acting teacher and director. She has directed over 100 productions at a variety of theatres across the United States.

In 1992, Ms. Reed took the helm of Hedgerow, bringing her years of experience to Hedgerow to return it to its National standing as a theatre of excellence. She represented the next generation of a long line of actors and educators at Hedgerow, as, from its roots, the theatre has focused on the training and creating of future actors. From Jasper and Rose Schulman, Ms. Reed reignited the educational programs and strengthened the company mindset of Hedgerow by reinvigorating the apprenticeship program.

Ms. Reed transformed Hedgerow from a burned down shell of a building back into a professional theatre with an identity both for theatre production and education.  

The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre are a nationally recognized symbol of excellence for professional theatre in the Greater Philadelphia region, honoring local artists and theatre companies while increasing public awareness of the richness and diversity of our city’s thriving theatre community.

Named in honor of the famed Philadelphia-based first family of theatre, the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre have served as Philadelphia’s professional theatre awards program since 1994. The Barrymore Awards are a nationally recognized symbol of excellence for professional theatre in our region, raising the bar for the work produced by local theatres and individual artists while increasing public awareness of the richness and diversity of our city’s thriving theatre community. Each fall, theatregoers and artists come together to celebrate the theatre season and honor that year’s Barrymore nominees and award recipients at the annual Barrymore Awards Ceremony.

Ms. Reed will join recent winners Sara Garonzik, Johnnie Hobbs, Jr.,Johnnie Hobbs, Jr. as well as friends and collaborators Louis Lippa, Tom McCarthy, and James J. Christy.

Today, Ms. Reed is a Director Emeritus at Hedgerow Theatre, serving as both an actor and a consultant. She has handed the company off to her son, Jared Reed, who is following his mother’s example and strengthening the core company of the theatre.

Ms. Reed will be appearing in the fall thriller, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, in the role of Madame Arcati.

Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media). For more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org.

Picking a Season of Shows from 1923 to 2016

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowTwoMastersEarlyHigh-9
Jared Reed and Brock Vickers in The Servant of Two Masters

“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.

WordPressBannerBoeing
Mark Swift, Meredith Beck, and Trice Baldwin in Boeing Boeing

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.

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowOrFarceFirstHigh-20
Allison Bloechl and Kittson O’Neill in Or,

“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,”

 

The Comedy of Maskers

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowTwoMastersEarlyHigh-12Timeless 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.

Timeless Comedy Served-up Double

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowTwoMastersFinalHigh-98Hedgerow 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).

 

Blog: Twenty-Three Reasons to See A Christmas Carol

ACC 2013 (88)

  • 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 ACC 2013 (17)
  • 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

ACC 2010 (258)