September 28, 2012
The Hampden-Sydney College Department of Fine Arts fall production, The 39 Steps, adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow based on the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock based on the novel by John Buchan, opens on Thursday, October 4.
The full title of this stage version, best known to audiences as a movie, is Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. This is a little strange considering that the original author of the 1915 novel was John Buchan. But the particular genius of Patrick Barlow's theatrical incarnation is that it attempts, in almost every way, to reproduce the film, and it does so quite faithfully.
Usually what happens in film just cannot be reproduced on stage. The Alfred Hitchcock classic was shot in multiple locations with dozens of characters. There are trains, planes, and automobiles, and other conventions that do not translate well to the stage. This means that staging this play is a struggle of the most joyous kind, not only because six actors take on over 40 characters, nor because this one simple stage houses over a dozen locations, but because in doing this, the very emphasis on the limits of theatre call attention to what the stage can do. It puts the actors in the same room as the audience; it revels in the interplay that they share; and most importantly, it takes audience members back to that time in their lives when a box could be a house, four chairs could be a car, and in doing so, it celebrates their most incredible human gift: the power of imagination.
The cast and crew of this production come from various backgrounds, and include students and faculty from Hampden-Sydney and Longwood University. The set and lighting were designed by Fine Arts professor Matt Dubroff.
Performances are Thursday & Friday, October 4 & 5, and Thursday & Friday, October 11 & 12, at 8 PM in Johns Auditorium. All performances are free and open to the public.