efore Alfred Hitchcock became famous for
, he directed
The 39 Steps
Darton State College audiences saw a stage version
of the story in November.
The play is based on a 1915 novel by John
Buchan, which Hitchcock adapted to film in 1935.
Patrick Barlow wrote the play in 2005, but his
version adds comedy to the suspense.
John Sanders, a theater major who appeared in
Darton’s production of
The Wizard of Oz
played Hannay. Sanders said the role was difficult.
“It’s very fast-paced and physically demanding,” he
said. “It was a lot of fun. My character was a bored
bachelor. He wished something to happen in his life
and he got more than he wished for.
“We had the performance in the multi-purpose
room (in C building). The audience seemed to be
into it. The stage was about six inches off the floor
and we were in the audience a lot. My character
was running for his life most of the time,” he said.
The comedy was built around the fast paced action.
The play is designed for actors, other than Hannay,
to play multiple roles.
James Strawder played five roles. The multiple
roles required rapid costume changes, which
increased the comedic element of the play.
“At one time I had to change from an old Scottish
man to a policeman and back to a Scottish man and
back to a policeman,” he said.
He added that the low stage and the
requirement that some of the actors interact with
the audience seemed to enhance intimacy between
the audience and actors.
“In one of the final scenes I had to chase Richard
through the audience,” he said. “Climbing over
chairs and interacting with audience members
provided a huge level of intimacy with the audience
and audience enjoyment of the play.”
Both actors said the performances were well
done and that the audience seemed engaged.
The play’s dialogue is full of references to other
Hitchcock movies, such as
Strangers on a Train
. The 39 Steps was the directorial debut at Darton
of Rebecca Dodson, who is in first her semester as
“It went great,” Dodson said of her Darton
debut. “We had a fantastic response to it.”
“It was a wonderfully funny mystery spy thriller
based on the original Hitchcock movie,” Dodson
said. “It is Hitchcock mixed with Monty Python, full
of love and adventure.”
The show also won recognition from the
Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival
adjudication process. Sanders and Strawder both
won Irene Ryan nominations and Jessie Robison
won nominations for both sound design and
stage management. Finally, Dodson also won
nominations for Barbizon Design Award and
Student Directing Award.
The next step for the Darton players will be to
travel to Roanoke, Va. and participate in the
KC/ACTF Festival. -
OLIVIA RAKEL & LARRY ANDERSON