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The Monster in The Machine

  • Author(s): Burr, Wendy
  • Advisor(s): Chemers, Michael
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

The following thesis maps the evolution of my dramaturgy for the UCSC production of Machinal, written by Sophie Treadwell and directed by Kirsten Brandt, in three sections. It serves to detail my process through evidence, analysis, interpretation and reflection. The first section I refer to as my "monster essay," which places Treadwell's work beneath the microscope, to be viewed through the lens of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's Seven Theses of Monster Theory. My essay exposes the fears and desires of 1920's America through objective analysis and informed interpretation. This essay served to inform my work as a dramaturg, using Monster Theory as an empirical method of cultural and historical investigation. The second section is a direct reflection of my dramaturgy for the 2014 production of Machinal. It begins with an assessment of how Monster Theory influenced my process, followed by a linear evaluation of my role as a dramaturg. It functions to provide an account of the objective successes of this production's dramaturgy in addition to exposing moments where further dramaturgy could have enriched the depth of the performance. Each of these documents is then supported by the evidence present within the third section, my dramaturgical casebook, which is separate to this file.

The casebook's contents reflect a portion of my research, providing a glimpse at the socio-political and cultural elements of history that were relevant to both the historical moment of Treadwell's writing in addition to how it has been interpreted since its debut in 1928 to the present. Furthermore, it documents historical evidence of the Snyder-Gray trial which was heavily influential to Treadwell's work as being exemplary of the fears and desires present not only within the individual, but within the larger social sphere of the late 1920's in America. Newspaper articles, essays, and other resources retrieved both online as well as from physical documents provide concrete evidence that exposes the world of Machinal, both in its written form and as it was set in Brandt's production. In addition, this casebook reveals evidence of my dramaturgy that directly influenced the production. In particular, this is seen through the actor's packet, program notes, production journal and the external lobby display. Finally, it documents the designer and artist research, renderings and statements as well as production stills in order to historicize our production.

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