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Electrifying new staging of the 1928 classic ‘Machinal’ kicks off Wirtz Center season

Inspired by the real-life case of convicted and executed murderer Ruth Snyder, “Machinal” is considered one of the high points of Expressionist Theatre on the American stage.

Machinal” opens the 2019-20 Mainstage season at Northwestern. Subscriptions and single tickets are now available by phone, at the box office and on the Wirtz Center website.

The show, by Sophie Treadwell, is directed by Jaclyn Biskup. It runs Oct. 25 to Nov. 10 at Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston.

Helen, a young office worker, follows the rituals prescribed by society and is left feeling trapped and unfulfilled. Looking for a way out of her sordid marriage, the young woman begins to find her freedom, but with life-changing consequences.

Written in 1928 by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell, the play is neither a sensational thriller nor a courtroom drama, but rather an unfolding tragedy of someone who is powerless in society. 

“The play is about women’s rage,” director Biskup said. “We still live in a society where women are perceived as less capable than men. The patriarchy devalues women, denies men their own complex emotional life, and erases folx (sic) who don’t fit into its narrow gender roles. Society demands conformity to its neat and tiny boxes and levies extreme consequences for those who refuse to make themselves small enough to fit. Helen is a woman who doesn’t fit into the narrow role that has been offered to her.”

Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available on the Wirtz Center website, by phone at 847-491-7282 or in-person at the Wirtz Center box office which is located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.  

Box office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. The box office is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

150 Years of Women

Northwestern University marks the 150th anniversary of coeducation in 2019-20. To mark this historic anniversary, Northwestern will host events and programming across the University and around the world. Get to know the Northwestern women/womxn who led the struggle to open doors, creating greater access and opportunity for all who followed on the 150 Years of Women website.

The Wirtz Center is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts. 

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'Machinal' opens the Wirtz Center 2019-20 Mainstage season at Northwestern Oct. 25 to Nov. 10.
'Machinal' opens the Wirtz Center 2019-20 Mainstage season at Northwestern Oct. 25 to Nov. 10.
“Machinal” opens the Wirtz Center 2019-20 Mainstage season at Northwestern Oct. 25 to Nov. 10.
“Machinal” opens the Wirtz Center 2019-20 Mainstage season at Northwestern Oct. 25 to Nov. 10.
The Wirtz Center presents 'Machinal' Oct. 25 to Nov. 10. Photo credit: Joshua Hoffman for the Daily Northwestern
The Wirtz Center presents 'Machinal' Oct. 25 to Nov. 10. Photo credit: Joshua Hoffman for the Daily Northwestern