North Central College presents “Machinal,” an expressionist play written and set in the late 1920s by Sophie Treadwell and directed now by North Central’s Associate Professor of Theatre Carin Silkaitis.
Four performances will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5-7 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 in North Central’s Madden Theatre at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $10/adults and $8/students and seniors; call 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.
The play is based on the true story of Ruth Snyder, a New York City Queens housewife who had an extramarital affair, murdered her husband and was executed at New York’s Sing Sing prison. The brilliance of “Machinal” comes through in the ways that Helen, Snyder’s theatrical counterpart, is twisted and bent under society’s pressures. Helen is a woman forced into submission by the rituals of society in the mechanized world around her.
The play comes from the College’s partnership with Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater, where North Central students served as understudies in the company’s professional performance directed by Jacob Harvey. The production received four stars from Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones.
At Greenhouse Theater, “Jacob was blown away by the work ethic of our theatre students,” said Silkaitis. “We plan to continue the partnership in another play this season and well into the future.”
Silkaitis has the unique opportunity to direct the production following her performance as Mother in Greenhouse’s staging. “I'm excited to direct this version because I've never directed a play that I've also done professionally,” said Silkaitis. “Directors spend so much time studying the play, but I've been living it. I think that’s making a huge difference when working with our students.”
Silkaitis plans to bring the play’s intensity to the audience. “I’ve been working with the cast on tightening the pace so the audience isn’t given much time to breathe,” said Silkaitis. “The dialogue has inherent rhythms and cadence—it’s alive. The words themselves create the environment.”
Despite being nearly a century old, “Machinal” breaches topics that are more relevant today than ever, said Silkaitis. “This wonderful play is about how society influences us, and the choices we make as a result. I think this is an apropos time to have this conversation. What happens when humanity is removed from the equation, and we’re all just toeing the party line?”
The cast is (role, name, town, year, major):
Helen/Young Woman: Abigail Schwartz of Riverside, a sophomore majoring in musical theatre and biochemistry
Lover: Alexander James Poe of Thousand Oaks, Calif., a junior majoring in theatre and theatrical design and technology
Older Male: Jack Morsovillo of Franklin Park, a 2017 alumnus and theatre major
Younger Male: Cody Talkie of Joliet, a 2017 alumnus and theatre and musical theatre major
Mother: Sarah Irene Rosenberg of Arlington Heights, a junior majoring in Spanish and theatre
Older Woman: Bridget Adams-King of Western Springs, a junior majoring in musical theatre
Young Woman: Miranda Harris of Normal, a 2017 alumna and theatre and musical theatre major
Husband: Alex Moerer of Waverly, Iowa, a 2017 alumnus and theatre and broadcast communication major
Female Ensemble: Kellyn Maguire of Downers Grove, a senior majoring in theatre and sociology
Male Ensemble: Jake Elkins of Aurora, a sophomore majoring in musical theatre
The crew is (role, name, town, year, major):
Director: Carin Silkaitis, associate professor of theatre
Stage manager: Stephen Kossak of Somonauk, a 2017 alumnus and theatre and theatrical design and technology major
Assistant stage manager: Tommy Varela of Ketchikan, Ala., a junior majoring in interactive media studies
Lighting designer: Will Coeur, half time assistant professor of theatre
Hair/makeup designer: Kat Davis of O’Fallon, Mo., a senior majoring in theatre and sociology with a focus on criminal justice.
Publicity: Juan Munoz of Coal City, a junior majoring in theatre
North Central College offers majors in theatre, musical theatre, theatrical design and technology, and a minor in dance. Students of all majors can participate in musical and nonmusical performances, actor showcases and one-act plays and performances in the College’s four theatre venues. Full-time professors and active professionals who are artist-teachers serve as faculty.
[Photo, from left: Bridget Adams-King ’19, Jake Elkins ’20, Cody Talkie ’17, Abigail Schwarz ’20, Miranda Harris ’17, Jack Morsovillo ’17, Kellyn Maguire ’18]