Photo by Dan Vaillancourt
The department of theatre at the College of the Holy Cross will present “Machinal” written by Sophie Treadwell and directed by Edward Isser, professor and chair of the theatre department, on Nov.1-3 and 8-10 at 8 p.m. in Fenwick Theatre (located on the second floor of O’Kane Hall). Tickets are $7 for members of the Holy Cross community and $10 for the general public. Group rates are available, and Holy Cross faculty and staff are invited to attend the Nov. 1 performance at no cost. Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at (508)-793-2496.
“Machinal” is one of the earliest and most important feminist dramas of the 20th century according to Isser. “It is a deeply moving work about a woman who seeks freedom and self-fulfillment in a society that makes the attainment of these goals impossible,” says Isser.
Helen Jones, the play’s protagonist, is trapped in a mind-numbing job and is continually pressured by societal expectations. After pursuing an extramarital affair, she journeys through marriage, motherhood and even murder, offering a frank discussion of female sexuality and patriarchy. “Many issues raised in Treadwell’s drama about the subjugation of women remain disturbingly pertinent today,” says Isser. “Issues of pay equity, the glass ceiling and women’s reproductive and health rights are still debated, almost a century after Treadwell wrote her groundbreaking play.”
The theatre department’s presentation of “Machinal” is a part of the College’s celebration of its 40th anniversary of coeducation. “The goal of bringing women to Holy Cross 40 years ago was intended to empower women to lead fulfilling lives on a commensurate basis with men,” Isser explains. “By mounting this work, we hope to empower women on campus to seize what is rightfully theirs and to raise the consciousness of men who may not be cognizant of these issues.”
Isser, who is the author of the book “Stages of Annihilation: Theatrical Representations of the Holocaust,” and who has directed a dozen Shakespeare productions on campus, in Green Hill Park and at Foothills Theatre, says he looks forward to presenting a play that is both “prescient and revolutionary.”
The play features a cast of 13 undergraduate students, including Erin McMahon ’13 as Helen Jones, Shannon LoCascio ’14 as the Mother, Leo Hernandez ’16 as the Husband and Nick Jorgenson ’16 as the Lover.