The 39 Steps: relationships between performers and audience

The 39 Steps: relationships between performers and audience

Audience Involvement

  • The 39 Steps heavily relies on the relationship between performers and spectators. There’s an ongoing acknowledgment of the audience’s presence, making them an active participant in the action.
  • Performers often break the fourth wall, i.e., they interact directly with the audience, making them feel as if they’re part of the storyline. This engagement of audience involvement is fundamental to the play’s comedic tone.
  • Interaction with the audience isn’t just limited to conversation. Performers may also physically involve audience members, whether by inviting them on stage or integrating them into the action in other ways. This deepens the bond between the stage and spectators.

Theatrical Elements and Characterisation

  • This performer-audience relationship is deepened through meta-theatrical elements. Sequences involving a play-within-a-play and performers assuming multiple roles remind spectators that they’re watching a performance, thereby intensifying their engagement.
  • The 39 Steps, being a melodrama, exaggerates characters and situations for comedic effect. Performers use exaggerated physicality and voice variation to incite laughter from the audience, thus strengthening their connection.

Stage Techniques and Audience Engagement

  • Performers also utilise mime to interpret the stage props. They sometimes motion for the audience to engage with imaginary objects, which demands the spectators’ imagination and engagement.
  • The incorporation of sleight of hand magic tricks performed keeps spectators guessing and engaged, making them both observers of and participants in the drama unfolding on stage.
  • The rapid scene shifts and brisk action of The 39 Steps keep the audience on their toes. The spectators’ constant adaptation to new settings, characters, and situations solidifies their connection to the performers.

Set Design and The Use of Humour

  • The minimalist set design and usage of the stage space also involve the audience, as they’re left to fill in the gaps by themselves. The audience is encouraged to use their imagination to complete the scene, bridging the gap between them and the performers.
  • The 39 Steps is rich in satire and wit, engaging the audience mentally as they identify and appreciate the numerous humorous references and puns.