North Theatre Performs “Machinal” for Spring Play


Jake Taylor

Emma Ostlund, Olivia McDermott-Sipe, Gaia Hendrix-Petry, and Melody Cobine pose for a photo after a show. Photo by Jake Taylor

Sydney Piercy, reporter

A woman struggling to conform to the machine-like world of New York City in the 1920s. A heat of passionate murder. And the story of the first woman to get the electric chair.

Machinal is a play about oppression, conformity, and how free spirits often get caged in the machine-like ways of society.

In February, a group of North students from the theatre department put on a production of ‘Machinal” by Sophie Treadwall. There were a number of total performances done, all located in the Black Box.

The play being performed in the Black Box instead of the auditorium gave the audience a much more intimate show, the front row of seats sometimes less than a few feet from the actors and actresses.

The hour-and-a-half play was made up of seven acts. Though the play was set in a multitude of places, there were very few props and no “sets” to help the audience know where the characters were at a given time.

However, because of solid acting and a few well placed props, there was little confusion about setting.

The lead actress in Machinal was Gaia Hendrix-Petry, who played the young woman. Petry gave an outstanding performance, channeling emotion and passion that was felt by the whole audience.

The rest of cast of Machinal was very small, with almost every actor playing multiple parts. The cast did a seamless job switching between roles, and it was always very clear what role any actor was playing at any given time.

North Sophomore Emma Ostlund played multiple roles; she was a working woman in an office who was later seen at a bar. And she was also a court reporter during the trial.

Ostlund’s favorite scene to perform was the opening scene of the play, because while it was “very difficult, it was really nice when we got it all together.”

Ostlund enjoys the people she got to work with, and loves acting whenever she can.

“It was a really great cast of people,” Ostlund said. “It was really fun to experience that kind of atmosphere with all of them and get to know them better. And seeing how we grew and improved was just really rewarding.”

The casts’ hard work did not go unnoticed. Nearly every student who saw Machinal had nothing but praise for it. North student Hannah Bentz saw the performance and was very impressed by it.

“It was dramatic and thought-provoking,” Bentz said. “I really enjoyed it.”

This seemed to be the common attitude of North as a whole, as the play will end another year of theatre productions on a high note.

Along with being the final play of the year, Machinal was also the final North production theatre teacher Sobre will direct before retiring. Her final project was a success in the eyes of the actors, and of North students and faculty who saw the play.

Productions like Machinal are what keep North artistic and diverse, and are an important part of our school culture.