The 1928 premiere of this remarkable drama by Sophie Treadwell was the pinnacle of American Expressionism, and permanently transformed theater in our country. Inspired by the real life and death of convicted murderer, Ruth Snyder, this feminist masterpiece is a stunningly dark journey inside the female psyche. Director Brenna Geffers brings her distinctive vision to this haunting play that has received revivals and great acclaim throughout the century. 


THOUGHTS FROM DIRECTOR BRENNA GEFFERS: “It is tempting to avoid stories that have women as anti-heroes when we are still moving towards having strong, positive female characters on stage. But we love stories about male anti-heroes and complex, dark male characters.  How we can allow our female characters to move beyond the stereotype of the neurotic woman, to be viewed instead as a woman having a deep existentialist crisis. Will she be seen as such? We can’t expect these works to be current feminist perspectives, but we can move beyond the traditional expectation that women can only take passive, indirect action. We also want to create space to remember that women are part of the canon and should appear both on stage and behind the scenes in the theater! The rough statistics are that women playwrights comprise only about 17% of the national total, and constitute less than one-third of theater professionals in the areas of acting and directing; it’s nowhere near 50/50.  There is a widely held assumption that women don’t write plays, but they do, and have been, but somehow we pass them over. As a community, I believe we need to remember this legacy. I also think that a greater involvement of women makes the art better in terms of being truly universal; there should be other perspectives besides the historic white-male “Everyman”. I hope this is a conversation in small portions that will become part of a larger, broader discussion. This is just the first step!” Click here for full article in Phindie.


HISTORY OF THE PLAY: Machinal’s 1928 Broadway premiere, directed by Arthur Hopkins, is considered one of the highpoints of American Expressionist theatre, even though it only ran for 92 performances. The original production is notable for featuring Clark Gable in his pre-star Broadway debut and an original scenic design was by the famed Robert Edmond Jones. In 1933, Machinal also had two successful runs in the Soviet Union due to its revolutionary implementation of “merging… of expressionistic form with expressionistic content.” The play then went nearly forgotten for the rest of the century, but has recently been “rediscovered” through marquee revivals including The Public’s New York Shakespeare Festival, The Royal National, and most recently at The Roundabout in New York.


THE PLAYWRIGHT: Sophie Treadwell (1885-1970) wrote dozens of plays, several novels, and countless articles that appeared in newspapers. In addition to being a playwright, Treadwell also produced, directed, and acted in some of her productions. Treadwell grew up in the Bay Area and attended U.C. Berkeley. During college, Sophie had her first brushes with mental illness, a condition that would plague her and lead to several extended hospitalizations throughout her life.  In 1915, she and her husband moved to New York where she became active in the suffragette movement, as well as advocating for sexual independence, birth control rights, and increased sexual freedom for women, as well as re-launching her journalism career: she became the only American female war correspondent in WWI. As a playwright, Treadwell set herself apart from many female writers of her day by pursuing commercial productions of her works on Broadway. Seven of Treadwell's plays appeared on the Great White Way between 1922-1941. Although her plays primarily feature lead female characters, the women presented vary greatly in their behavior, beliefs, and social status. The rights to Treadwell's works were passed on in her will to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson in order to benefit Native American children.


Want to read more of Treadwell’s work?

Gringo (1922), O Nightingale (1925), Ladies Leave (1929), Lone Valley (1933), Plumes in the Dust (1936), Hope for a Harvest (1941)

Directed by Brenna Geffers



Young Woman..................Mary Tuomanen*

Ensemble...............................Chris Anthony

Ensemble..............................Ross Beschler*

Ensemble..............................Carlo Campbell

Ensemble..........................Colleen Corcoran

Ensemble..............................Kirsten Kunkle

Ensemble...............Shamus Hunter McCarty

Ensemble....................................Lee Minora

Ensemble..................................Steve Wright


* Actors appearing with permission of
Actors' Equity Association


Performance Dates
April 22- May 8


Performances at:
The Latvian Society, 

531 N 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123


Run Time: 




  • Opening Night 4/22: $35

  • Wed-Thurs: $25

  • Fri, Sat, Sun: $32

  • Student: $12 

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  • The Latvian Society is not fully handicap accessible. Please contact EgoPo with any assistance needs.

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© 2015 by EgoPo Classic Theater. 

Theater Location: 531 North 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123.


Office Location: 317 Dickinson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

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