By B. Witham
Began as an audacious scan, for thirty years the Hedgerow Theatre prospered as America's so much winning repertory corporation. whereas recognized for its well-known alumnae (Ann Harding and Richard Basehart), Hedgerow's legacy is a dwelling library of over two hundred productions created through Jasper Deeter's idealistic and decided pursuit of 'truth and beauty.'
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Extra info for A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow
In the Rose Valley, Jasper Deeter, unheralded and largely unremembered, carried on his own very personal and quiet crusade. To keep the players together throughout the decade required persistence and patience and discipline. Most of them commuted from Philadelphia or nearby communities for rehearsals and performances, often at their own expense. Most had jobs and/or families that could interfere with their scheduling and professional theatre. But connections to the black theatre community in Philadelphia and the growing reputation of Hedgerow as a place that was sympathetic to Negro performers encouraged a stream of volunteers.
In the interim, Cullen arranged with the writer Harry Hamilton to create a new version that Cullen’s agent sent to Hedgerow. Jasper, however, liked the original and did not want to collaborate on a new version. In addition, he wanted Cullen to understand that if they produced it, it would remain in the repertory and not be pulled for other (New York) productions. ”27 One Way to Heaven features a black con man who pretends to find religion and ingratiates himself into a church community in order to pursue his real goals—lust and money.
Sydney Machet, a youth of nineteen years, is a Deeter discovery and Machet gives notice of being an actor of renown. His work as Emperor Jones has already indicated a genius for the histrionic art. The role is lengthy and by no means easy. The colored actor, Gilpin, was acclaimed for his interpretation of the part, but Machet has developed some features of the role not touched by Gilpin, and is surely as effective in portrayal, holding a theater audience tense and in thrall. 5 Sadly this promise was not fulfilled.
A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow by B. Witham