Jed Hancock-Brainerd, here. I am the last 1/4 of the acting crew on 39 Steps to post on the blog. I'm also the final member of Strange Attractor Theatre Co. to do so, the theatrical outfit Aram, Roblin, Rebecca, and myself make up. As Aram and Rebecca mentioned in previous posts, working on this play is a huge leap from the way we normally work together, as we tend to generate all the material we perform through improvisation. In our world if something isn't immediately fun it can be tossed out or morphed into something else. In the world of "straight" plays however, of which 39 Steps is a part, it is the actors', director, and designers' job to make everything on the page "work". This is a huge challenge with The 39 steps, where in addition to dialogue there are also physical bits that have become part of the DNA of the show.
It's fairly rare, I think, that you find a "straight" play that has as strong a proposal for the physical world as it does for the verbal. These so-called "bits" in the play have become as popular, if not more so, than the snappy dialogue that this play employs. In many ways working on this play is akin to being asked to recreate a scene from a Marx brothers movie and to make it "work". It can be fun as the challenge for me is not to re-invent the wheel, but to allow all your own playfulness to shine through while executing the physical writing that is so much a part of this play. In this piece making the part my own has been and continues to be figuring out the timing, rhythm and breath necessary to make all these physical moments live in much the same way an actor would do with a piece of well known text. Once one of the moments is figured out you get to ride this crazy train on tracks that have been so well laid by the writer and team of actors that originally developed this piece six years ago.
The final ingredient to this puzzle will of course be the audience and that's when we all get to really ride this roller coaster together. Look forward to seeing you all on the rails!
See Jed and all the Strange Attractor folks in The 39 Steps in...23 Days!