Q&A with Raquel Duffy on The 39 Steps


What is it like being in the rehearsal room with Ravi again after working with him on 2015’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist?

I was sooo pregnant during Anarchist (7 months). The entire process ended up being an absolute joy for me. Firstly, that Ravi felt the character could be pregnant. (It wasn’t written in the script). So many times in the profession pregnant actors are not given a role because it’s too risky for a myriad of reasons. Both Soulpepper and Ravi were so supportive.
I struggled to find the role in Anarchist because the journalist character appears only in Act 2 and plays a specific yet intrinsic role in the piece. Ravi is a very gracious and affirming director. He encourages you to make brave choices and many choices. As an actor you are given a lot of space in the room. By that I mean space to fail and be really bad yet not be judged harshly. That is quite rare (in my experience).

Tell us about your roles in The 39 Steps:

I play Annabella Schmidt, a femme fatale German(ish) spy; Margaret, a wee lassie from Scotland; and Pamela Edwards. The latter is the leading lady to Richard Hannay, Kawa’s leading man. (Have I expressed how much I adore Kawa Ada?????)

What is it like tackling such a range of characters?

It’s truly a pleasure. And for lack of a better word, FUN! The roles are based in the world of Hitchcock but with a more heightened quality. This allows the performer to mine the essence of a character. Sometimes for sheer comedic value, other times for the iconic relationship or role they serve to the piece.


This play is extremely physical, how does that enhance the storytelling?

Imagine four actors deciding to do an homage to the movie The 39 Steps. They want to do the best job they can to honour the film but only have a tiny budget. (The whole point of the piece is that the play doesn’t rely on fancy effects or scenery). This troupe is determined to do justice to an iconic Hitchcock film. They create and invent what they need in order to tell the story the best way they can. They play multiple characters, especially Andrew and Anand who play around 50 different roles.

Why should audiences experience The 39 Steps:

First of all, you don’t have to see the movie to enjoy this play. However the enjoyment resonates more if you’ve seen the film. If you like to laugh or need to, or maybe just want an escape from the world right now, come and see The 39 Steps. We hope it will be as enjoyable to our audience as it is for us to perform.

Staff Profile: Amy Hunter – Administrator & Interim Executive Assistant to the Artistic Director

Amy-HunterHow long have you worked at Soulpepper and tell us a little bit about what your job consists of lately.
I’ve worked at Soulpepper since December 2015. I’m an administrator, which lately has consisted of creating & tracking contracts, and working with our payroll department to make sure our artists get paid. I’m also the executive assistant to Albert Schultz, our Artistic Director, which can include any number of things, from managing his schedule, to providing him with any resources he might need throughout the course of his day. He’s an incredibly busy person, which makes me an incredibly busy assistant!

What is something we might be surprised to know about you?
I used to perform & tour professionally as a folk-pop musician, and my debut album was recorded & produced by Drake’s producer!

Any ongoing projects outside of work?
A new project I just launched is an online vintage clothing shop on Etsy which is curated by me. It’s called Sweet Fig Finds and I’m adding new pieces to it nearly every day. I personally source all the pieces myself, so lately my spare time has consisted of a lot of thrifting for vintage clothes.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
When I’m not thrifting for my online shop I’m usually out on the town! I like to be busy, and this city has so much to offer. I like to attend art openings/music shows, and try new restaurants. I’m also a bit of a coffee enthusiast, so I spend a lot of time sampling different roasts or beans from various regions.

What do you love about working at Soulpepper?
Soulpepper is an exciting and innovative organization, which makes working here pretty exciting too. That, and the people who work here are so kind and passionate, it’s contagious.

Akosua Amo-Adem and her kiss from the Theatre Gods


Hi, my name is Akosua Amo-Adem and I am playing ‘Leader’ in part one and ‘Runaway Slave #2’ in part three of Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts I, II, III). I get asked a lot what’s it like being in the rehearsal room of this show and all I can say is that it is…Amazing! I don’t know how else to describe it I feel like I’ve been kissed by the theatre gods, because I get to wake up every morning and come to this beautiful building and work on such an important piece of theatre with an incredible cast and design team, and a director that I admire and have wanted to work with for a very long time!

Being back at the Young Centre and working with Soulpepper after being gone for three years feels wonderful. The last production I did here was Farther West in 2013; since then I have been a part of other exciting projects such as Better Angels: a parable (by Andrea Scott), Domesticated (directed by Company Theatre’s Philip Riccio) and most recently Venus’ Daughter (by new play write Meghan Swaby and produced by Obsidian Theatre Company). And although I enjoyed being involved in those projects there is something about being in this building that is very comforting.

2011AcademyGroup-BW I spent a year training in the Academy here and that allowed me to get to know the staff and bond with the artists in a very unique way. My time in the Academy gave me the chance to hone my artistry and the time I needed to really carve out for myself the kind of storyteller I want to be. So to be back here for this play in particular and seeing all five generations of the Academy represented in this production is very special.

Father_Banner1Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts I, II, III) is a highly anticipated play because like I said earlier, it is an important piece of theatre. We’ve only been working on it for two weeks now and already the significance of this STORY is palpable (and some of us are not even off book yet)! I think audiences should come and experience the show because this play is offering us an opportunity to begin or continue the conversation about a topic that I think we Canadians find difficult at time to discuss, but is so necessary to have, in order for change to truly happen; and I am honoured to be a part of that.

Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts I, II, III) is on stage July 25. Learn more.

Akosua Amo-Adem, photo supplied. 2011 Academy, photo: Jason Hudson. Illustration: Gracia Lam.

Donor Profile: Ed Ho & Daniella Dimitrov


How long have you been Soulpepper donors?

We became Curtain Club members in 2014 and this past year we became Heart & Soul supporters. We have been attending shows since their inception almost 20 years ago.

What inspired you to support us? What has inspired you to continue your support? 

It’s distressing that there is not enough organic support from ticket sales to support the annual budget of most theatre companies in Canada.  That said, Soulpepper has brought together a phenomenal team led by Albert to inspire and create a culture like none other. Once you get to meet anyone from the Academy to the Executive, it is obvious how passionate and committed the team really is to every facet of their engagement with community, teaching and the productions. We want more and somebody has to bear the cost.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about giving to Soulpepper? And, why do you think the arts should be a priority for philanthropy?

Sit down and chat with anyone from Soulpepper and you will feel the infectious passion.  Come out and see a couple of productions and you will see a cutting edge vision for both modern and contemporary shows.  We now feel like we are a part of a collective of really great people with a common goal.  You feel it from the moment that you walk in the building. Our lives are much richer because of it.

How do you imagine Soulpepper in 10 years?

It’s hard to imagine how much more could be achieved.  Even if they were to stop today, Soulpepper has clearly been a tremendous success.  It would be great to create similar programs in communities across Canada, but we’re happy to be part of this Toronto gem.

Staff Profile: Sean Foreman – Patron Services Representative

Sean Foreman 1

Photo: Daniel Malavasi

How long have you worked at the Young Centre and tell us a little bit about what your job has consisted of lately.

I’ve worked at the Young Centre Box Office for about four years now. Wow, four years. Certainly doesn’t feel like it.

On a daily basis I sell tickets, field questions and get to meet great people. It’s fun talking to people from all around the world and showing them what we have going on here.

Any projects that you are involved in outside of work?

In my spare time I like to write and direct videos. The work I produce is mostly comedic but I’ve also made dramatic short films and a bunch of music videos as well.

 When you’re not at work, where can we find you?

I write and perform with a comedy group called The 95s. Every once and awhile we put up an hour long show at Comedy Bar. It’s a great creative outlet and a lot of fun.

What is something we would be surprised to know about you/is a hidden talent?

You know that voice that your computer has when it dictates to you from a word processor? I’m able to speak like that for some reason. I don’t really know why, but who am I to question the universe?

What do you love about working at Soulpepper/The Young Centre?

The sense of community we have at Soulpepper is unmatched. It’s pretty wonderful that on my lunch break I can have a chat with an acclaimed actor, director or writer.  You can’t do that everywhere.

Donor Profle: Elizabeth Dalzell


Donor history:  Since 2013

How did you first learn about Soulpepper?

I remember when Soulpepper launched in the late 90’s.  My husband and I went to see Soulpepper’s production of Our Town at the Royal Alex way back in 1999.  I remember being so touched by the story and by the actors’ performances.  Although we moved out of town soon after, I watched with interest as Soulpepper grew in influence and size.

What inspired you to support us? What has inspired you to continue your support?

My cousin invited my partner and I to Soulpepper at Play in the fall of 2013. It was so much fun and the performances were so incredible we were hooked!  We have been enthusiastic supporters ever since.  I joined Top Women in early 2014 – it’s proven to be a great way to entertain business associates and introduce Soulpepper to others who love live theatre as much as I do.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about giving to Soulpepper? And, why do you think the arts should be a priority for philanthropy?

The arts are a critical part of any society’s culture.  It’s entertaining but done well it’s also thought-provoking, challenging and, often, transformative.   No theatre company in Canada does this better than Soulpepper!

How do you imagine Soulpepper in 10 years?

I imagine Soulpepper with more than one location in Canada or, at a minimum, collaborating with other Canadian theatre companies on a regular basis.  Soulpepper’s Academy produces amazing talent – I would love to see even more artists provided with the opportunity to train and hone their craft.

Peter Fernandes on The Just

Soulpepper Academy Graduate Peter Fernandes shares his insights on The Just, a world premiere translation of Camus by Bobby Theodore opening this March.


The Just is about a group of revolutionaries planning the assassination of a Grand Duke during the Russian Revolution. The play and its characters are based on real people and events carried out by the Socialist Revolutionary Party in 1905. At its core, it is an intimate look at the moral toll of being a terrorist or revolutionary and standing up for one’s ideals when confronted with the task of taking another person’s life. Camus gives the audience opposing perspectives centered on the forces that motivate people to want change, what it really takes to instigate change, and the moral consequences of revolutionary action.

Many of the artists in our production of The Just, including myself, have been involved with the piece for over a year and a half. Director Frank Cox-O’Connell has long worked with Bobby Theodore on this new translation and we’ve had the benefit of several readings and explorations of the text prior to rehearsal. Being given so much development time to dive into the large ideas of this work has been incredibly rewarding: just when you think you’ve got a handle on these characters, something will shift, opening up a whole new series of questions. So between our in-depth look at the piece last fall and the beginning of this run, we’ve been allowed to digest and interpret our questions, returning to rehearsal with a more well-rounded perspective. We continue to discuss the moral complexities of this play, making the world we’re playing in clearer and more vivid.


A word I have heard a lot of recently is “Slacktivism” which is an act of showing support for a political or social cause (usually on the internet) that requires little to no effort. There is a lot of talk about wanting change, but discussions will stop at the actions required to instigate that change and at the ramifications of those actions. We rarely consider the injustices that push people who want change so passionately they feel forced to resort to violence. We rarely consider the moral, physical, and psychological toll that committing an act of revolution or terror would have on our loved ones and ourselves. This play sheds a light on a radical idea and challenges the audience to come face to face with its questions and uncertainties.

See Peter in The Just from March 5 to March 26, 2016.

Peter Fernandes photo: Daniel Malavasi. Illustration: Gracia Lam.

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