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Theatre's Machinal Continues This Week

The theatre department’s production of Machinal, a powerful expressionist drama about the loss of individualism in a machine-like society, continues this week with performances Wednesday through Saturday, March 7-10, at 8 p.m. in the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall.

Set against the backdrop of the steep rise in commerce and finance in early 20th-century America, Machinal, written by Sophie Treadwell nearly 80 years ago, has enjoyed numerous productions. The Smith production, which features Brett Mathewson Smith ’07 and Andrew Barker, Western New England College, is directed by Leta Tremblay ’07. It is loosely based on the sensational 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder, the first woman in New York sentenced to die in the electric chair.

Sophie Treadwell, who began her career as a journalist reporting for the San Francisco Bulletin, was one of the first accredited female war correspondents during World War I before she turned to the theatre and wrote 40 plays, Machinal being the most well known and critically acclaimed. A feminist, Treadwell was one of those rare female playwrights who flourished at that time in America, even directing and producing many of her own works.

Tremblay is a theatre major who over the last four years immersed herself in the study and experience of every aspect and nuance of theatre production, from the artistic to the technical to the administrative. As a sophomore Tremblay was assistant stage manager and assistant director of After Mrs. Rochester, working with Ellen W. Kaplan, professor of theatre. She has also apprenticed in stage management with New Century Theatre and Paintbox Theatre, and studied for a semester at The Eugene O'Neill National Theatre Institute, where she worked with the SITI Company and discovered a passion for Viewpoints, an ensemble-building and actor-training technique. Last spring at Smith she stage managed a production of A Doll House and directed Hot Fudge by Caryl Churchill. Leta’s ultimate goal is to start a theatre company dedicated to producing original work with an emphasis on ensemble.

There will be a Talk Back session with the director and cast on Monday, March 12, at 4:10 p.m. in the Green Room, Mendenhall.

Tickets are $7, general public, $5 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call 413-585-ARTS (2787), or in person at the Mendenhall Center box office Monday through Friday 1 to 4 p.m. and beginning at 7 p.m. on performance nights.

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