US Premiere Of Tim Crouch's BEGINNERS Comes to Hedgerow Theatre

Beginners runs April 18th to May 5th at Hedgerow.

By: Mar. 27, 2024
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Hedgerow Theatre Company will welcome audiences across generations to Beginners, a wonderfully inventive play by Obie Award-winning theatre-maker Tim Crouch that explores a time of pivotal transition and the “wafer-thin divide between childhood and adulthood.”

Beginners, a US Premiere,  is directed by Hedgerow's own Executive Artistic Director Marcie Bramucci, who has been bringing increasingly bold and exciting artistic work to Hedgerow, and performed by Emma Gibson (switching from her recent Director role of Hedgerow's critically acclaimed The New Electric Ballroom), returning talents Philip Brown (Good Grief), Mike Thurstlic (A Christmas Carol Comedy, Tales from Poe) with new-to-Hedgerow dynamos Nicole Lawrie and Joanna Liao, and Hedgerow Theatre school youth artists Alice Webber (Pillowman, Junie B. Jones Jr), Olivia Seale (Frozen Kids), and Theo Bramucci (Frozen Kids, Junie B Jones Jr), alongside youth artist Jordan Sheppard, who makes his Hedgerow debut. Beginners runs April 18th to May 5th at Hedgerow. Opening Night is Saturday, April 20 at 6p.m.  Tickets cost $35 for adult tickets and $20 for students and youth (under 18 years old), plus fees, and are available online at www.hedgerowtheatre.org.  Hedgerow Theatre Company is located at 64 Rose Valley Rd.

On the surface, Beginners is a play about a group of friends and their families who have gathered as they do every year for a vacation in a remote town in coastal Maine. However, audiences gradually begin to sense and discover that there is much more than meets the eye. The play premiered in 2018 at the Unicorn Theatre, the UK's leading professional theatre dedicated to producing inspiring and invigorating work for young audiences, and quickly became the hottest ticket in London. Beginners was celebrated as “one of the liveliest and sharpest pieces of theatre you'll see this year [written] by Tim Crouch, a wonderfully mischievous theatre-maker.”

Crouch offers, “I wrote Beginners because my children have grown up. I love the adults they've become but I miss the children they were. I sometimes think I see the children that they were in the adults they've become and that makes me inordinately happy and also inconsolably sad.” Known for not only for surprising an audience with each of his plays, Crouch considers the audience an integral part of his storytelling, making audiences absolutely vital to his work. It is a style that truly honors the unique dynamic of live theater. In Beginners, Crouch achieves the delicate task of inviting both adults and young people to laugh and emotionally invest in the storytelling without underestimating either audience. 

Hedgerow is thrilled to produce the US Premiere of this singular work and to collaborate with Crouch in that process. “A playwright often wonders if what they've written will translate beyond their own imagination,” notes Crouch. “It's a dream to think of Beginners meeting a US audience for the first time. It's the play I feel most emotionally attached to and the thought of my characters being given new life in a new setting is absolutely thrilling.” 

“Crouch's work is like that of no other theatre artist,” highlights Bramucci, who helms the production. “ His plays each have their own entirely individual rules and structures, and with Beginners, which centers a young person's world, expectations are flipped inside out and anything seems possible. Haunting, silly, confounding, touching, illuminating, and most delightfully mischievous, Beginners holds within its swift 90 minutes the multitudes in each of us and the reasons why theatre endures. Crouch offers a veritable playground for theatre-makers and audiences alike - and it is a true gift to inhabit with the whole of this amazing team.” 

Beginners features a stellar nine-person multi-generational ensemble, including four young actors, between the ages of 10 and 12. Children of this specific age are not only vital to Crouch's story, but are also critical collaborators in the rehearsal and production process. Dramaturg Gina Pisasale observes, “When you invite young people into an artistic process, and offer them – their experiences, thoughts, creativity, and playfulness – equal if not more visibility and influence as anyone else in the room, incredible listening and new discoveries are made that would have never happened otherwise. As adults, it gets us out of our ruts and assumptions, and changes and elevates the whole climate of artmaking. It has been wonderful to experience.”

As children and as adults we experience events – joyful and challenging – that make us feel like beginners over and over. Crouch addresses these moments head on and gives us (a) play to move through it. Lyn Gardner of The Guardian explains that, “Watching it – we expand our belief in what's possible and how we can overcome what life throws at us.”

Hedgerow's production of Beginners demands a kind of imaginative and playful rigor that has thrilled the creative team that includes Paul Kuhn as the Scenic Designer & Chief Builder, Lily Fossner as the Lighting Designer, Nicole Lawrie as the Costume Designer, Shannon Zura as Sound Designer, Pete Pryor as Artistic Consultant, Steve Smith as Fight Choreography/Movement Director, and Gina Pisasale as Dramaturg.  Kate Fossner is the Production Manager and Ali Caiazzo is the Stage Manager.

The creative team have opened the Theatre venue to include opportunities for on stage seating, an extension of the vacation house where the action of the play unfolds around them. Audiences can enjoy seating in bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, carpet squares in the first two rows and on stage, including wheelchair accessible seating options on stage and in the second row of the theatre.  

Beginners has a full slate of programming around it. Sharing the spotlight, youth cast members will co-host an open mic Kids Karaoke Night following the performance on April 26. Kids in the audience ages 7+ can sign up and sing their favorite song on stage. Hedgerow's Pre-Show Happy Hours for the run of the show will be Family Friendly and will include kid friendly drinks with the beer and wine for patrons over 21. Open captioning is available at each performance from April 27 - May 4 at 2pm.  There will be a Relaxed Performance on April 27 at 7 pm, with a pre-show sensory tour at 6:15 pm. Audio description is available on April 27 at the 7pm performance, provided by Gina Pisasale. Patrons with accessibility needs or questions are encouraged to contact the box office at 610-565-4211 or boxoffice@hedgerowtheatre.org




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