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The Scarlet & Black

Menner to do “The 39 Steps”

By Samira Sadeque

Jack Menner ’13 is bringing a play based on Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The 39 Steps” to Grinnell for those of us who have grown up hearing about renowned director’s famous nail-biting stories.

The play, based on a movie by Hitchcock that was based on a novel by John Buchan, follows the story of a man who has a spy murdered in his kitchen. He becomes the key suspect for the police, and the play showcases his journey through his escaping the police’s hand and chasing other spies at the same time.

Menner will be directing the play through Grinnell Community Theatre with Michael Hunter ’02, a math teacher and director at Grinnell High School. Hunter, a Grinnell alum, worked previously with Menner on a similar production.

Although the play has 150 characters in total, it is written for four actors to quickly switch back and forth between them.

“[This will take place] all in the course of an hour and a half,” said Menner. “While we won’t have all the special effects, it will have better effect because there will be more emphasis on the acting.”

The Grinnell Community Theater is a subset of the Grinnell Area Arts Council, which participates in many activities providing arts to the community. The Grinnell Community Theater has worked not only with students and alums, but also with faculty members. Professor Mark Montgomery, Economics, wrote and starred in a play at the Community Theater a couple of years ago.

Although the play is scheduled to be performed in August, Menner decided to have auditions now so that those who are interested in participating can be given the script in advance. Auditions have been scheduled for May 14 and 15. Grinnell College students and townspeople are all welcome to try out.

“We’re just looking for a cast that can work well together to do justice to the play,” he said, “and that doesn’t require you to be a master on stage.”

Menner, a philosophy major, was involved in theater during high school, but took a break after starting college. However, he participated in the play earlier this semester, “The Rimers of Eldritch,” and acted in a play directed by Hunter last fall. Menner isn’t sure about theatre as a career, but he’s excited about the possibilities.

“[This] door could open,” he said. “The good thing about this is that it doesn’t close any doors, it only opens them up.”

The play will be performed during what typically constitutes the NSO weekend for Grinnell, on August 25, 27 and 28 and it will be performed at Central Park.

“Even if you don’t want to be in it, come see it,” he said.

Apart from actors, the crew is also looking for a stage manager and encourages anyone interested in helping with lighting, props or technical support to join the production, regardless of experience.

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