Machinal

by Sophie Treadwell.

Loading Dock Theater
September 9 – October 1, 2006

Machinal was inspired by the real life case of Ruth Snyder, executed for the murder of her husband, Albert Snyder. She was electrocuted at Sing Sing Prison on January 12, 1928, along with Judd Gray, her lover and co-conspirator. The trial was a sensation – the first “O.J.” trial of its time. The media reported every detail, and the public followed closely. The final moments of Snyder’s execution were caught on film with the aid of a miniature camera strapped to the ankle of Tom Howard, a Chicago Tribune photographer working in cooperation with the New York Daily News. The picture is still controversial. For years afterward, reporters were required to view executions with their hands raised in the air to prevent illicit photographs.

The Cast

Young Woman – Amber Bjork
Stenographer, Mother, Waitress, Reporter – Kirby Bennett
George H. Jones, Judge – Andy Chambers
Mr. Roe, Bailiff – Dylan Fresco
Filing Clerk, Young Doctor, Court Reporter – Erik Hoover
Adding Clerk, Doctor, Defense Lawyer, Priest – Chris Kidder
Mr. Smith, Prosecution Lawyer, Barber – Zach Morgan
Nurse, Reporter, Matron – Julie Ann Nevill
Telephone Girl, Reporter – Sara Richardson

In addition, members of the cast appear as hospital attendants and patients, bar patrons, and others.

The Crew

Director – Carin Bratlie
Production Stage Manager – Sarah Bauer
Stage Manager – Allana Olson
Scenic Designer – Zach Morgan
Sound Designer/Interim Managing Director – Katharine Horowitz
LIghting Designer – Stephanie Drinkard
Costume Designer – Carin Bratlie
Props Designer – Jodi Trotta
Asst. Stage Manager – Laura Doty
Movement Coach – Dylan Fresco
Artistic Associate – Joseph Papke

The Press

“Strong…excellent” – Back Stage

The Fun Stuff

Press Release

Director’s Notes:

Machinal was inspired by the real life case of Ruth Snyder, executed for the murder of her husband, Albert Snyder. She was electrocuted at Sing Sing Prison on January 12, 1928, along with Judd Gray, her lover and co-conspirator. The trial was a sensation – the first “O.J.” trial of its time. The media reported every detail, and the public followed closely. The final moments of Snyder’s execution were caught on film with the aid of a miniature camera strapped to the ankle of Tom Howard, a Chicago Tribune photographer working in cooperation with the New York Daily News. The picture is still controversial. For years afterward, reporters were required to view executions with their hands raised in the air to prevent illicit photographs.

Sophie Treadwell, an early 20th century playwright and actress, was also a journalist. Machinal (French for mechanical, automatic, or involuntary) was her greatest triumph, but by no means her only work, having written over a dozen plays as well as articles, essays and interviews. Although Machinal was written almost 75 years ago, it is considered one of the highlights of expressionistic theater on the American stage. The play centers on a young woman whose entire life is determined not by her own wishes, but rather the world around her. She tries to follow the rituals that an impersonal society expects of her (marriage, keeping a home, motherhood, etc.) but the constraints of this binding life prove too much for her. In an effort to break free and find happiness, she has an affair with an adventurous young man. But even this desperate grasp at humanity is fruitless and she is driven to desperation by the machine of her life – ultimately murdering her husband. She is found guilty of the crime and meets her end in 1928’s newest machine: the electric chair.

The Gallery