By B. Witham
Began as an audacious test, for thirty years the Hedgerow Theatre prospered as America's so much profitable repertory corporation. whereas recognized for its recognized alumnae (Ann Harding and Richard Basehart), Hedgerow's legacy is a residing library of over 2 hundred productions created by means of 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
Arthur Rich was born and raised in Cheyney, Pennsylvania, and was 35 years old when Deeter coaxed him into the Hedgerow family in 1931. His father was a chef at Cheltenham Military Academy in Philadelphia, and Arthur, after attending public schools, secured a position as valet for Maurice Bower Saul, a prominent lawyer in Media, Pennsylvania. With the outbreak of World War I, he enlisted in the all Negro 325 Field Signal Battalion and was promoted to sergeant after combat in the Argonne Forest.
He was reading widely in Freud and Jung, and the play was infused with notions of how fear can grow from the almost benign appearance of “little formless fears” to the absolute terror of confronting the subconscious. It was both a literal journey through the jungle as well as a psychological journey through Jones’s mind as he regresses into his personal and collective past. The accompanying drum beats, which start at the exact tempo of the human heart, escalate as Jones’s fear blossoms into hysteria and drives him into the waiting arms of the natives whom he has duped and fleeced.
In spite of his limited resume, contemporaries often remarked about Jasper Deeter’s magnetic presence: his “riveting eyes,” chiseled features, and an electrifying effect offstage and on. ”3 Mordecai Gorelik, who met him in Greenwich Village and later designed at Hedgerow, was fascinated by his Inheritors 15 personal magnetism. ”5 Henry Miller called him “a man without dross. A man who has been through the fires. ”6 It was a heady time to be an ambitious actor in Greenwich Village. The Washington Square Players were reforming themselves into what would become the Theatre Guild, and talk of an actors’ union monopolized the discussions at the Sheridan Square saloons.
A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow by B. Witham