By Faith Jarrell
Student Life Editor
On Friday, Nov. 3 and Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m., senior Julia Stanley’s senior capstone experience of playwright Sophie Treadwell’s “Machinal” was performed in the Alonzo G. and Virginia Gent Decker Theatre.
According to an introduction written by Judith E. Barlow for Nick Hern Books London’s copy of “Machinal,” “‘Machinal’ uses expressionist techniques to create a parable about an ‘ordinary young woman’ who lives in a mechanized, materialistic world.”
Stanley chose “Machinal” after initially disliking the play.
“The reason I knew ‘Machinal’ was the right play to choose was because I hated it the first few times I read it,” Stanley said. “It grew on me, and I loved that it was full of complicated people and feelings and a world full of big moral dilemmas. I knew going into my SCE process I wanted a play that is an ensemble piece with a role that would challenge me to do things I had never done as an actor.”
The cast consisted of Stanley as the lead young woman, also referred to as Helen Jones, junior James Fordi as George H. Jones and others, junior Sam Steptoe as Richard Roe and others, senior Belle Leiphart as Mother and others, sophomore Faith Poulton as Telephone Girl and others, freshman Juliana Santiago Batista as Stenographer and others, senior and Elm News Co-Editor Grace Apostol as Filing Clerk and others, and sophomore Jenna Harper as Adding Clerk and others.
The creative team and crew consisted of former Washington College student Erin Coffman ‘17 as the director, Stanley as the producer, sophomore Hannah Choi as set designer,
senior Elm Editor-in-Chief Liv Barry as props supervisor, sophomore Elizabeth Fitzpatrick as lighting designer, junior Kimi Adolfsen as sound designer, junior Ryan Morrow as costume designer, senior Elm Opinion Editor Sophie Foster as hair and makeup designer, senior Colleen Pogue as dramaturg senior Matthew Brader as stage manager, and senior Rae Merson as assistant stage manager.
After being approached about directing the play, Coffman almost immediately agreed.
“When I met with Julia Stanley for the first time to discuss the play, she and I instantly connected on the boldness of the character, and I knew that this was a piece that I had to work on,” Coffman said.
For some in the cast, it was their first time working on a production at Washington College.
“I really did [enjoy working on ‘Machinal.’] Because I’m a freshman, at first I got a little intimidated, but then as time passed by, [the cast] started including me in stuff, so it was really fun to get to know all of them,” Santiago Batista said.
In the producer’s note included in the “Machinal” program, Stanley spoke on the timelessness of “Machinal.”
“While the show is a window into another world, a world of the past, there are mirrors within it that reflect modern issues. There is something to be said about weaponized privilege, modern toxic masculinity, and an American government hellbent on controlling the actions of women,” Stanley said.
“My hope is that you all find something to peer at or reflect on, just as much as I have. I hope you walk away having truly considered the world we live in and how ordinary people can be targeted, hurt, and twisted by the institutions of power within it.”
While Stanley will be leaving the Department of Theatre and Dance at WC in the spring, she is grateful for the experience she had working on her SCE.
“The people I worked with on this play were just unbelievable. Every single person on the cast and crew was amazing to work with. The stage management team, designers, and director made creating and delving into the intense world of this play so much fun. I got to work with and play off of some of the best actors I have ever had the privilege of working alongside,” Stanley said. “This thesis reinforced for me that theatre is what I love, and I can’t imagine life without it. The nature of theatre is that it is fleeting, and I fell in love with that all over again during this process.”
Photo courtesy of Rae Merson
Photo Caption: The set for “Machinal” was made up of a platform above stairs built specifically for the play. Every set piece had black, white, pink, and red colors to match.