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Salem State Theatre presents Machinal

Available to view online March 11-18

From The Center for the Arts at Salem State University

The Salem State theatre and speech communication department presents Machinal by Sophie Treadwell, a recorded performance available to view online March 11- 18. 

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Sophie Treadwell’s expressionist masterwork premiered on Broadway in 1928. The play takes its inspiration from the real-life case of Ruth Snyder who, along with her lover, was convicted and executed for the murder of her husband. Although Treadwell was working as a journalist at the time, Machinal is not a literal retelling of the sensationalized murder case. 

Treadwell tells the story of “a young woman – any woman” who works as a stenographer in the industrial, male-dominated world of the 1920s. The play depicts her struggle for personal fulfillment in a world where isolation, commodification and automation overwhelm daily life.  The play’s soundscape rings with the sounds of the machines that dominate her environment and stifle her voice. An illicit love affair opens the door to joy and a new future, but when reality sets in and she must return to her routine existence, she will go to any lengths to keep her freedom.

This production was recorded live in the Sophia Gordon Center without an audience and following Covid-19 safety guidelines.  Director Esme Allen notes that our current climate resonates in Machinal. “It forces us to isolate, distance ourselves and rely on a machine to connect. These “stifling” theatrical parameters are our inspiration as we explore a 90-year-old story with timeless themes.”

Machinal will stream online March 11 through 18. Reservations: www.salemstatetickets.com. Tickets are $10 general and free for students.  Please be advised that this play contains simulated violence and capital punishment, mature themes, racially charged language, and is not suitable for young children.


About the Center for Creative and Performing Arts

Salem State’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts (CCPA) provides the arts explorer a singular destination to experience world-class guest artists and award-winning student and faculty performances in dance, music and theatre as well as art exhibitions and spoken word events. The CCPA is committed to providing diverse, inclusive and affordable arts experiences to the communities on Boston’s north shore. 

About Salem State University

Salem State University, established in 1854, is a comprehensive, public institution of higher learning located approximately 15 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts. One of the largest state universities in the Commonwealth, Salem State enrolls about 7,300 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers 32 undergraduate programs and graduate programs that offer degrees in 24 fields. The university also has a continuing education division that offers both credit and non-credit programs. Known for the academic strength of its faculty, Salem State was named a Top Producer of U.S. Fulbright Scholars in 2011 and for the 2016-2017 academic year. The university is designated a Top College and University by Military Advanced Education and a Best for Vets College by Military Times. Salem State proudly participates in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement and has shown a student voting rate well above the national average, earning the university a gold seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.


This month, Creative Collective is celebrating Women’s History Month! Follow along as we tell the stories of women small business owners and woman-led organizations.

And make sure to use the hashtags #shareHERstory, #shareTHEIRstory*, or #shareyourstory to highlight the women, the femmes/fems, and the non-binary/genderqueer individuals in your community who have and are continuing to inspire you.

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