By B. Witham
Started as an audacious test, for thirty years the Hedgerow Theatre prospered as America's such a lot profitable repertory corporation. whereas identified 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 made up our minds pursuit of 'truth and beauty.'
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Additional info for A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow
Jules Bledsoe, who did a stint as Joe in Showboat, was a powerful actor with great vocal range. His portrayal of the title role Abe McCranie, who sacrifices all trying to bring education to his people, The Emperor Jones 33 was the powerful centerpiece of the production, and the talented Rose McClendon as his long suffering wife, Goldie, and Abbie Mitchell as his aunt, Muh Mack, rounded out a superb cast. The play is deeply rooted in southern Negro life: collecting turpentine, enduring poverty, and denying white parentage.
The impossible is always tempting, but when chance provides the means it requires immense courage to make the leap of faith. How is a theatre born? There is usually a master—and often mythologized—story. But frequently there are many threads that taken together offer a more nuanced understanding. Or as one critic mused in reflecting on the enormous international success of Jerzy Grotowski’s Polish Laboratory Theatre and their reputation as “poor”: “What might you think having graduated from the renowned Moscow Directing Academy to find yourself relegated to a poor, tiny theater in the drab Polish boondock of Opole?
A second Hedgerow performance was given two weeks later to a sold out house. Although the theatre continued to struggle (1928 would be their lowest year at the box office) Deeter’s work with the cast of In Abraham’s Bosom had a huge impact on him, and he was determined to make plays and performances about the Negro experience a part of the Hedgerow mission. 34 A Sustainable Theatre It was a daunting task. Hedgerow didn’t even pay salaries to its “resident” actors, so the thought of assembling enough Negro actors to perform in repertory seemed utterly idealistic.
A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow by B. Witham