The Department of Theatre and Dance at Gustavus Adolphus College is proud to present the finishing act of its 2012-13 season with Machinal, a groundbreaking American Expressionist play by Sophie Treadwell, directed by Amy Seham. Performances of Machinal will be presented in Anderson Theatre May 9-11 at 8 p.m. and May 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets for all four performances are available online at gustavustickets.com or by calling the Gustavus Ticket Center at (507) 933-7590. Tickets remaining on the day of the performance will go on sale at the Anderson Theatre box office one hour prior to show time.
Sophie Treadwell was a pioneering feminist, journalist, and playwright in the 1920s. Her Expressionist play, Machinal took Broadway by storm in 1928 (featuring a young Clark Gable as “the lover”). The play is based on the 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder, the first woman ever executed in the new electric chair. A seemingly ordinary woman, Snyder had been convicted of killing her husband. But what had driven her to murder? The trial inspired Treadwell to write the story of “everywoman” Helen Jones as she struggles to find her own voice within the mechanized pressures and entrenched power of society. In the mode of films like Metropolis, or Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, the play presents the “machine” as a dominant character in itself. Seham’s production uses innovative design and physical theatre to enhance the feeling of a mechanized society. Workshops with Sandbox Theatre from Minneapolis, a group known for its cutting edge physical theatre, has further inspired the production.
Approximately 60 Gustavus students are involved in Machinal, including a 14-person cast which features sophomore Katelyn Juni ’15 as Helen Jones and senior Rush Benson ’13 who choreographed the physical theatre pieces. Seham is directing the production with set design by Micah Maatman, costume design by Larissa McConnell and sophomore Bethany Davidson ’15, light design by Terena Wilkens, and sound design by junior Anna Michel ‘14.
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