Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Hedgerow Theatre was established in 1923, as America's first resident repertory company by Jasper Deeter (1893-1972), an actor, producer, teacher, and Federal Theater Project director. Along with a group of idealistic actors, designers and playwrights, the company served as a "seminal influence for the beginnings of the national regional theatre movement,"(Witham, preface). Described by the National Theatre Communications Group Convention in Philadelphia as the "Mother of all Philadelphia Theatres," Hedgerow has put on performances for more than 95 years and has served as a starting point for the careers of generations of artists and several other theater companies.
Hedgerow Theatre Company survived many challenges from war and fluctuating economies to two fires which required a complete rebuilding of the theatre in 1990. Despite these challenges, the Hedgerow Theatre Company has continually grown, adding new programs to aid in the growth of theater education and experience for all ages. In 1958, Rose Schulman and Deeter founded the Hedgerow Theater School of Expression training generations of theatre artists adding to the live-in repertory theatre company. Shortly after, actress Penelope Reed joined the Company and she opened a children's theater while expanding the educational programming to include children as well.
During the 1970s and 1980s, influential individuals in the running and directing of Hedgerow included June Prager, David Ralphe, Rose Schulman, Dolores Tanner, and Charley Walnut. Penelope Reed, a third-generation Hedgerow Theatre Company member who was awarded the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre in 2017, became artistic director in 1990, serving in that capacity until 2013. She installed a Fellowship program that continues to produce talented arts leaders that have grown the Philadelphia arts scene. In 2016, Hedgerow theatre changed hands with Penelope Reed stepping down and her son, Jared Reed, taking over the directorship. Hedgerow Theatre Company, and particularly Deeter, formed and maintained relationships with nationally renowned authors and artists including Sherwood Anderson, Countee Cullen, Theodore Dreiser, Wharton Esherick, Susan Glaspell, Louis Lippa, Eugene O'Neill, Lynn Riggs, and George Bernard Shaw. Actors and actresses particularly influential to Hedgerow included Ruth Esherick, Ann Harding, Miriam Phillips, David Ralphe, and Penelope Reed, to name only a few.
The mission of the Hedgerow Theatre Company— as professional theatre ensemble and theatre school—strives to create ensemble works of the highest quality and distinction and to provide a learning environment focused on kindness, positive feedback, creative thought, and critical thinking using theatre as the medium. Additionally, the Theatre continues to be a resident training ground for established and emerging theatre professionals while serving as a cultural resource for all people while deepening human connections.
Our Story (Briefly): 95 Years in the Making, Hedgerow Theatre Company (website accessed 2019 May 6)
Witham, Barry B. A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow (New York: Palgrave MacMillan), 2013.
The Hedgerow Theatre Company records contains a wide variety of materials documenting the rich history of America's oldest repertory theatre. The collection includes business and financial documents, correspondence, programs, advertisements, photographs, member specific records and show materials spanning nearly a century. The collection provides both a practical as well as an intimate look into the institution and its values. In addition to theatre company records, the collection also features materials regarding the arts in Delaware County.
The Hedgerow collection was originally placed on deposit at the University of Pennsylvania from 1962 to 1964. Upon request from Hedgerow's then treasurer, Ralph Roseman, the collection was returned. Between 1977 and 1980, a large portion of Hedgerow materials were placed on permanent loan to Boston University, while a microfilm collection was created at the University of California, Berkley. Some materials relating to the Boston University donation can be found in Series II, box 6 folders 15 and 16. This collection, The Hedgerow Theatre Company records (Ms. Coll. 1321), represents the remaining materials from the split collection as well as those created after the donation to Boston University.
This collection is arranged in eleven series: I. Administrative records; II. Theatre Company; III. Publicity; IV. Theatre school; V. Show materials; IV. Scripts, prompt books, and scores; VII. Photographs; VIII. Audio visual materials; IX. Publications, X. Scrapbooks, and XI. Visual materials. For detailed descriptions, see notes at the series levels.
This collection will be of value to researchers interested in the Hedgerow Theatre and its members, Jasper Deeter, American community theaters, the Philadelphia area arts, and the theater scene in the 20th and 21st centuries. Additionally, those interested in theater pedagogy, American theater production and repertory trends, or theater advertisements and promotion may also find this collection useful.
Gift of the Hedgerow Theatre Company, 2016
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Alexis Morris
- Finding Aid Date
- 2019 May 2
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use, however some materials throughout the collection may contain personally identifiable information or may be orginal audio visual material.
Personally identifiable information may be found in boxes 4, 6, 7, 12, and 66 and X is restricted for 70 years after date of creation. Researchers interested in viewing restricted material in this collection should email the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts to consult with a curator.
Access to original audio/visual materials (found in boxes 28-29, 35, and 49-54) is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (email@example.com) for cost estimates and ordering.
Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.