Theatre students present Machinal

Love! What does that mean? Will it clothe you?. . .feed you?. . .pay the bills? – Mother, when Helen is hesitant about marrying her middle-aged boss

“machinal” – of or pertaining to machines

WINNIPEG — The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film’s theatre season continues with a presentation of Sophie Treadwell’s emotional tragedy Machinal, being performed February 15-19, 2011 at UWinnipeg’s Canwest Centre for Theatre and Film. This ground-breaking play will be interpreted on stage by third-year Honours acting students and mounted by senior production and costuming students.

Machinal is one of the most acclaimed dramas of the 20th Century. Written by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell, the play tells the story of the “everywoman”, Helen, through nine scenic episodes depicting consecutive phases in Helen’s life.

Regarded as a highpoint of expressionist theatre on the American stage, the tragedy of Machinal was born out of the sensational headlines of the 1927 trial of stenographer Ruth Snyder for the murder of her husband. As a young reporter Treadwell was assigned the story of Snyder who eventually had the dubious distinction of being the first woman to be put to death in the electric chair. Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine had already dramatized the regimentation of middle-class life in an industrialized and money-oriented society, but Treadwell’s Machinal was the first play of its kind written by a female playwright. As such, it brought the female perspective to the stage at a time when the voice of women in society was just beginning to be heard in an increasingly mass-produced world.

This thought-provoking drama was hailed by the New York Times upon its Broadway debut in 1928 as “a triumph of individual distinction, gleaming with intangible beauty.”

Machinal is directed by UW Theatre Professor Shelagh Carter. Scenery and costumes are designed by recent UW graduate Sean McMullan with lighting by Dean Cowieson.

Performances are Tuesday, February 15 through Friday, February 18 at 8:00 pm and Saturday, February 19 at 2:00 and 7:00 pm at UW’s Canwest Centre for Theatre and Film’s Theatre 1T15, 400 Colony Street (entrance off Balmoral).

Admission is free but reservations are recommended. Please call our 24-hour Reservation and Information Line at 204.786.9152, or visit UWinnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film website at:


For more information, please contact:

Patty Hawkins, Department of Theatre and Film

The University of Winnipeg

T: 204.786.9955


Shelagh Carter, Department of Theatre and Film

The University of Winnipeg

T: 204.786.9489


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