By B. Witham
Started 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 residing 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
Deeter’s former Provincetown colleague, James Light, had been appointed director of a Philadelphia Black Unit of the newly organized Federal Theatre Project and was utilizing both newcomers to the theatre as well as some who had experience at Hedgerow. Together they provided opportunities for Negro performers who had been systematically excluded from most American theatre. 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.
Deeter struggled to make the relationships believable, but the tension between character behavior and Cook’s desire for a Dionysian revival confused or bored small audiences. 9 Glaspell, however, was intrigued with Deeter’s work on the play, and when the players scheduled her dramatic story of the Blackhawk legacy for production in 1921, Jasper Deeter was invited to direct. 10 It invokes racial tolerance, conscientious objecting, and personal commitment and integrity. But at its heart it’s about the land: who possesses it and for what purpose?
Machet, like many others who followed Deeter to the countryside, was unable to adjust to the communal lifestyle and returned to Provincetown and hopes of a New York career. He was deeply influenced by his friendship with Deeter, however, and with the 30 A Sustainable Theatre notion of repertory. 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.