By B. Witham
All started as an audacious scan, 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 through Jasper Deeter's idealistic and decided pursuit of 'truth and beauty.'
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Additional info for A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow
Faced with limited options and anxious to celebrate Hedgerow’s commitment to civil rights, Deeter, in 1936, undertook a production of Countee Cullen’s dramatized novel One Way to Heaven. 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.
1 Arthur Rich and Jasper Deeter in The Emperor Jones. Courtesy of the Hedgerow Theatre. the production. O’Neill, who had a fierce commitment to racial justice and who was intent on using the stage to address adult concerns, was fascinated by the landscape of human behavior in The Emperor Jones. 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.
But more and more the moment seemed to have past, and back on the road with Gilpin in Inheritors 21 The Emperor, Deeter despaired at what a career in this theatre truly offered. He admired Gilpin and was saddened by the increasing alcoholism that would soon erode his talent and end his career. In Chicago, Deeter conspired with the Provincetown Board and Gilpin’s wife to keep him on the wagon, but Deeter was eventually replaced on the tour when the battles over the pro- and anti-Jig forces escalated in New York.
A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow by B. Witham