Fairfield University's Theatre Fairfield launches 2009-2010 season with "Machinal" by Sophie Treadwell


Theatre Fairfield, Fairfield University's resident production company, opens its 2009-2010 season with "Machinal" by Sophie Treadwell. "Machinal" plays Wednesday Oct. 28 through Saturday Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. with matinees on Saturday, Oct. 31and Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. Performances are at the Wien Experimental Black Box Theatre located in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, on the Fairfield University campus.

"Machinal" is a 1928 feminist, expressionist drama, based loosely on the 1927 Ruth Snyder murder case in Queens, New York. This lurid and sensational tabloid murder case captured the imagination of the public and ended with the 1928 execution of Snyder and her lover for the brutal murder of Snyder's husband.

Treadwell constructed her drama by personifying her characters: YOUNG WOMAN, MOTHER, LOVER, LAWYER and DOCTOR, as some of the characters are named. By introducing characters as representatives of their roles in society, Treadwell underscores the play's theme of "Everywoman," and expresses a broad indictment of the machine-like societal pressures women of the day experienced.

The plot follows the life of Helen Jones - YOUNG WOMAN - caught in the machine of society that oppresses her, and all women. Living in a male-dominated society, Helen adheres to the rituals expected of her. She marries her boss, who repulses her and has a child. It is only when Helen has an affair with Richard Roe - LOVER - that she gets a taste of the freedom and passion that has been missing in her life.

"My character Helen - YOUNG WOMAN - is trying to survive the only way she knows how, but unfortunately, her way doesn't suit the world," says lead actress Alex Burke '10, who is from Fairfield.

"People still relate to this play today. The YOUNG WOMAN's oppressions and frustrations are our oppressions and frustrations. Despite feminism and women's liberation of the 20th Century, the plight of women in society hasn't really changed all that much." Says Dr. Martha LoMonaco, the director of "Machinal."

Intent on breaking free of the restrictions of the societal machine, YOUNG WOMAN murders her husband. The last two episodes in the play focus on Helen's trial and her execution by the ultimate doomsday machine, the electric chair.

"Machinal" and its production at Fairfield University sparked a joint effort with Fairfield's Project Peg, a student organization that advocates women's rights. Members of Project Peg have plans to help promote the production and spotlight critical issues that this play raises through talkbacks after select performances.

In addition to Dr. LoMonaco, the artistic staff includes the University's new acting professor, Mariah Sage, voice and acting coach; guest artists Julie Leavitt, costume designer; Karl G. Ruling, scenery and lighting designer; theatre major Amanda Xeller '11 sound designer.

Tickets are $12 for general admission; $6 for seniors & university staff; and $5 for students. They are available online at www.quickcenter.com or call the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 877-ARTS-396. Visit the website at www.quickcenter.com for further information.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 13, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 85