Audition: The 39 Steps

by Patrick Barlow

Directed by Cliff Francis

Sunday 30th June 2019 at 10am in the Studio

Playing dates: 18th to 26th October 2019

The play’s concept calls for the entirety of the 1935 adventure film The 39 Steps to be performed with a cast of only four (maybe more). One actor plays the hero, Richard Hannay; one actor plays the three women with whom he has romantic

entanglements; and two other actors play every other character in the show: heroes, villains, men, women, children and even the occasional inanimate object. This often requires lightning-fast quick-changes and occasionally for them to play multiple

characters at once. Thus, the film’s serious spy story is played mainly for laughs, and the script is full of allusions to (and puns on the titles of) other Alfred Hitchcock films. It is 100 minutes of non-stop, fast and physical action comedy.

Rehearsals will be three days per week (two evenings and a weekend), which we are hoping to start in July. Due to the nature of the piece, and rehearsals going over the holiday period, we will aim to work around any pre-booked holidays you may have as all cast will be called to every rehearsal. An ability to be off-book quickly and commitment are needed.

Synopsis

Richard Hannay is at a London theatre, watching the remarkable ‘Mr Memory’, a man with a photographic memory, when a shot is fired. In the ensuing panic, he finds himself with Annabella Schmidt, who talks him into taking her back to his flat. She tells him that she’s a spy, being chased by assassins out to kill her. She claims to have uncovered a plot to steal vital military secrets, by the head of an espionage organisation called ‘The 39 Steps’. Hannay wakes to find her dead, stabbed with a knife. He takes a train to Scotland, on her advice, has a further romantic encounter, and gets shot and left for dead.

The fun continues as this frenetic farce careens from place to place and muddle to mess. The conclusion combines mishaps, mistaken identities, and tongue-in-cheek references to everything we like about murder mysteries and film noir detective movies.

Unless specified otherwise, gender and ethnicity are entirely open. Feel free to make bold choices about the part you wish to read for.

This is a physical parody of a classic thriller, but as Buster Keaton said, ‘play it for real, not the gag’.

Roles

Richard Hannay – Our hero is approximately mid-30s, and tall (approx. 6ft+). Although he is clearly dangerous, he is quite good-looking with dark wavy hair, piercing blue eyes and a very attractive pencil moustache. As described in the play, I am looking for a matinee idol, in the classic sense.

Annabella Schmidt / Pamela / Margaret – I’m looking for a female actor to take these three roles, playing ages 20s-30s. Must have an ability with accents, central European, English and highland Scottish.

Clown 1 and Clown 2 – I’m looking for a minimum of two actors, possibly three or four, who will play every other role. The estimate is 140 roles, so about 70 each. Essentials are a range of voices and accents, gender and age immaterial, as playing men, women, children, and objects. Note: multiple lightning-fast changes.

All actors are either on stage, getting changed or assisting for the entire play, so availability for all rehearsals is a priority.

Open auditions

You are welcome to attend as many auditions as you like, noting which characters will be reading at which times.

For a copy of the script please contact Sharon Francis or Fiona Carter

Contact

Sharon Francis

Send email: 

Audition dates

Auditions will be held on the following dates:

Sunday 30th June at 10am in the Studio

Tuesday 2nd July at 7.30pm in Room One

Wednesday 3rd July at 7.30pm in Room One

Auditions for all productions

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