The Carleton Players will present American playwright Sophie Treadwell’s riveting play, “Machinal,” inspired by the real life case of convicted and executed murderer Ruth Snyder. The two final performances are tonight and tomorrow night, February 28 and March 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Carleton College Weitz Center for Creativity Theater. Performances are free and open to the public but reservations are recommended and can be made online at www.carleton.tixato.com/buy/.
“Machinal” tells the story of Helen, a stenographer in the industrial, male-dominated world of the 1920s, lives a life nothing like she hoped it would be. Restless and unfulfilled in a passionless marriage and unwanted motherhood, she finds her only joy in the form of an illicit love affair. But when reality sets in and she must return to her routine existence, she’ll go to any lengths to regain her freedom. Taking place just before the great Depression, Sophie Treadwall's play tracks the life of a desperate young woman destroyed by the world of money, men and machines.
Written by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell, “Machinal” premiered in 1928, and was considered one of the highpoints of expressionist theater on the American stage. The original production is also notable for featuring Clark Gable a few years before he became a movie star.
“Machinal” was adapted for television broadcast in 1954 and the New York Times wrote, “Sophie Treadwell's expressionistic and bitter poem for the theatre must rank among the video season's finest accomplishments.” The play was later produced off-Broadway by the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1990 and won three Obie Awards, for performance, direction and design. “Machinal” was then revived by the Royal National Theatre in London in 1993, and was awarded three Laurence Olivier Awards for best revival, best actress (Fiona Shaw) and best director. The latest revival opened on Broadway in a Roundabout Theatre production at the American Airlines Theatre in New York City in January 2014.
The Carleton Players’ production of “Machinal” is directed by associate professor of theater, Roger Bechtel. At Carleton, Bechtel teaches a variety of courses including Beginning Acting, Performing Shakespeare, Theater History and Theory, Live Performance and Digital Media, and Creativity and Aesthetics. He is active as both a theater artist and a scholar, and has directed and acted Off-Broadway and at a number of regional theaters, including Theater for a New Audience in New York, the Yale Repertory Theatre, the McCarter Theatre, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Snowmass Aspen Repertory Theater, and the Attic Theater. He is currently the artistic director of Big Picture Group, a theater company based in Chicago that creates multimedia performances exploring contemporary culture. Among his directorial credits for BPG are .duck, which was named one of the ten best productions of 2005 by the Chicago Tribune, and True + False, which won the critic’s choice award at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. His scholarly work includes Past Performance: American Theatre and the Historical Imagination, published by Bucknell University Press in 2007; “Drama and Technology since 1945,” forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of American Drama; and a variety of other book chapters and journal articles.
This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Department of Theater and Dance. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-5567. The Weitz Center for Creativity is located at College and Third Streets in Northfield.