ECC Theatre will present Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal November 2 through 18. Written by journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell (1885-1970), the play was inspired by the infamous 1927 murder trial against Ruth Snyder (the same sensational ‘20s trial that inspired the classic Double Indemnity) in which housewife Ruth Snyder was convicted of colluding with her lover to murder her husband.
While attending that trial sparked Treadwell’s writing process and heavily informs the plot of the play (a young woman’s journey from marriage to murder), Treadwell’s own experiences as a woman trying to navigate society in the 1920’s influence Machinal just as much.
Which leads us to our next point: you should come see Machinal because Sophie Treadwell was a truly fascinating woman and you don’t want to miss your chance to experience her work. Here’s just a snapshot Sophie Treadwell’s bold and adventurous life:
- In 1908, Sophie launched her career in journalism. Some of the stories she covered throughout her career include:
- An expose on homeless women (She went undercover and wrote an 18-part serial on the experience).
- WWI—They wouldn’t allow her near the front because she was a woman so Sophie volunteered as a nurse and wrote about the war’s effect on women. (How’s that for gumption?!)
- Pancho Villa. Treadwell secured an exclusive interview with Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa in 1921. (What a scoop!)
- Sophie was married to sports journalist and humorist William McGeehan for 23 years (until his death in 1933 from heart disease). A feminist who marched for women’s suffrage, Treadwell kept her name and even maintained her own separate residence after marriage. The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote wasn’t passed until 1920 when Sophie was in her 30s.
- Sophie had 3 plays produced on Broadway, including Machinal in 1928. It was a critical hit and a young Clark Gable was in its cast. The play continues to be performed 84 years after its first performance. In the past 25 years, Machinal has been produced by the National Theatre of London, New York’s The Public Theatre, Chicago’s The Hypocrites, many universities and colleges, and now by ECC Theatre. Don’t miss your chance to see the work of this pioneering playwright!
Machinal will be playing in the SecondSpace Theatre at the ECC Arts Center from November 2 through November 18. Visit elgin.edu/arts for tickets and information or call the ECC Arts Center box office at 847-622-0300.
Want to learn more about Sophie Treadwell? Visit the “Sophie Treadwell Collection” on the University of Arizona’s library website.