By B. Witham
Started as an audacious test, for thirty years the Hedgerow Theatre prospered as America's so much winning repertory corporation. whereas recognized for its recognized alumnae (Ann Harding and Richard Basehart), Hedgerow's legacy is a dwelling library of over two hundred productions created by means of Jasper Deeter's idealistic and made up our minds pursuit of 'truth and beauty.'
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Extra info for A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow
He also mended cracks in the theatre, reinforced old beams, and kept the ancient mill functioning as a playhouse. Like Deeter he was an iconoclast, a free thinker, and scornful of numerous social conventions. He, like Deeter, also believed passionately in the notion that the earth had to be respected and maintained in harmony with human life. He adored Inheritors with its rejection of the land as a resource to be exploited by developers and corporate enterprises, especially as the Philadelphia suburbs pushed out into the enclaves of the Delaware Valley.
It was a provocative and challenging choice. Cullen had been a star of the Harlem Renaissance, one of the finest of an emerging coterie of Negro poets and a lightening rod of artistic and personal controversy. He believed that art and poetry could transcend race and young writers should look to aesthetic models, like Keats and Housman, regardless of their lineage. He often disagreed with colleagues, like Langston Hughes and others, about depictions of the black experience, preferring not to dwell on the sensational aspects of underworld life or clichés of dope, pimps, and violence.
He eventually became a member of Eva Le Gallienne’s company at the Civic Theatre in New York and was in rehearsal for a revival of Inheritors in 1926 when his manic behavior and depression alarmed members of the company. He was rehearsing the dual roles of the young and old Silas, a hallmark of Deeter’s own repertoire, but was repeatedly late for calls. Shortly before opening, Machet suffered a nervous breakdown, therefore, Le Gallienne was forced to release him from the company. However, she admired him enormously and spoke often of his performance opposite her in The Master Builder at Hedgerow.