GAMBIER — Kenyon College students present “Machinal,” a landmark of the expressionist theater movement, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at 8 p.m. in Bolton Theater, 205 College-Park St.
“Machinal,” which means automatic or mechanical in French, was written by Sophie Treadwell in 1928. It centers around a woman’s journey of finding her identity in a patriarchial world and explores the conditions of society that would drive a woman to commit murder. Treadwell was inspired by the real court case of Ruth Snyder, who was convicted for the murder of her husband and was executed in the electric chair. Snyder’s case became highly sensationalized after a reporter snuck a camera into the execution chamber and a photograph of her death appeared in the New York Daily News.
“Treadwell used an expressionist style to tell this story by examining how societal expectations of women create situations in which they could feel trapped and unhappy. Expressionist theater is typically based on the idea that society is a machine; for example, in ‘Machinal’ all characters are listed by their job or just as ‘Man’ or ‘Mother,’ instead of having names,” said Kit Fluharty, a senior drama major from La Jolla, California, who is assistant director of the production. “The central character of the play is attempting to break out of the societal machine, and I’ll leave it up to the audience to decide whether she is successful in doing so.”
Associate Professor of Drama Anton Dudley, who directs the production, noted that the entire cast is excited to bring this project to life. It has been in the works since late October.
“The play passionately questions social systems with creativity, intelligence, experience and a relentless pursuit of truth. It weds the contemporary to the historic, the metaphorical to the actual, and demands engagement and response,” Dudley said.
Delilah Draper, a first-year student from Brooklyn, New York, plays the protagonist Helen Jones.
“I instantly connected with this character,” Draper said. “The way that she goes about facing these really important questions of identity mixed with this abstract, very creative nature I think will appeal to the ways in which Kenyon students are encouraged to think.”
To reserve tickets, contact the box office at 740-427-5546.
For more information, contact the Department of Dance, Drama, and Film at 740-427-5531.