Q&A with Raquel Duffy on The 39 Steps

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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.

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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.

About Soulpepper Theatre Company

Soulpepper, one of Canada's largest urban theatres, is an artist-centred company that celebrates the stories that move us and the artists who tell them. Soulpepper presents vital Canadian interpretations of the classics, and commissions, translates, and develops new work, creating a home for a diverse array of artistic expression across disciplines.

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