“Machinal” by Sophie Treadwell produced by UTC Department of Theater and Speech

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

The following comes from the UTC Department of Theater and Speech Press Release:

Sophie Treadwell’s play MACHINAL, considered to be one of the best examples of American Expressionism, will explode on to the Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre in November with all the betrayal, seduction, and violence one would expect from a play about the first woman executed in the electric chair in New York. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Department of Theatre and Speech’s contemporary staging of this classic play will be accentuated with high-impact sound and lighting design elements and a collage of symbolic artifacts floating above the action.

Director Gaye Jeffers says, “The incredible thing about MACHINAL is that even though it was written over eighty years ago, it is amazingly contemporary in its themes and subject matter. Treadwell’s decision to write the story in an Expressionistic style opens the door for me to invite the audience to leave Realism behind and to visit the mind and thoughts of a woman who decides to commit murder.”

Scenic designer Steve Ray, costume designer Sydney Roberts and lighting designer John Burgess create the alienating and dehumanized world onstage through strong colors and images. Sound design by UTC student John Moser completes the eerie and unsettling landscape.

The production is appropriate for high school aged audiences and up. MACHNAL is presented on November 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, and 20 at 7:30 pm, in the UTC Fine Arts Center on the corner of Vine and Palmetto Streets. Tickets are $10.00 for students and seniors and $12.00 for the general public. UTC Faculty and Staff BUY ONE TICKET for $10.00 GET ONE TICKET FREE. That’s two tickets for the price of one or four for two…
Call the Fine Arts Center Box Office at 425-4269 for reservations. Tickets will be on sale the evenings of performances.
WHO: UTC Theatre

WHAT: Machinal by Sophie Treadwell

WHERE: Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre
UTC Fine Arts Center
Corner of Vine and Palmetto

WHEN: November 12, 13 and 17, 18, 19 and 20
All performances at 7:30 pm

TICKETS $10 Students and Senior Citizens
$12 General Admission
$10 Faculty and Staff buy one get one free.

Available at the Fine Arts Center Box Office
Call 425-4269 for reservations

The original production of “Machinal” featured Clark Gable as the lover on Broadway in 1928, according to Novel Guide’s website.    The site goes on to describe the work of playwright, Sophie Treadwell:

Although Treadwell was a prolific playwright and an outstanding journalist, there is still little information written about her life or plays. It is remarkable that a woman who has had successful runs of her plays on Broadway and internationally, plus had wide success as a journalist, has not received greater attention. As a journalist, Treadwell infiltrated prostitution in San Francisco, posing as a homeless prostitute to expose the lack of charitable help available to homeless women. During World War I, Treadwell was on assignment in Europe, making her one of the first female foreign war correspondents in American history. Her greatest journalistic success may have come from her two-day interview with the Mexican revolutionary bandit, Pancho Villa. Treadwell was the only American journalist granted access to Villa at his Mexican hideout.


Ruth Snyder execution

The above photo is of Ruth Snyder, the first woman to be executed in New York.     Treadwell’s play, “Machinal” is loosely based on the life of this woman.     The photo was taken illegally by a photographer at the time of her execution.

Listen to the Story:


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