Arts & Culture

UK Theatre’s 'Machinal' Examines Murder, Punishment

photo of web slide for UK Theatre's "Machinal"
"Machinal" will take the Guignol Theatre stage Dec. 5-8.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 25, 2019)  Next up for the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance is a play based on the real-life case of a convicted and executed murderer. “Machinal” runs Dec 5-8, at the Guignol Theatre, located in the Fine Arts Building. 

“Machinal” is American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell's expressionistic play about a woman’s monotonous life in the “machine” of industrialized capitalism. An unflinching and poignant examination of the working class, “Machinal” tells its social commentary in an evocatively theatrical way — unafraid to dive into topics like homosexuality and abortion, this groundbreaking work premiered nearly a century ago and still resonates to the 21st century audience.  

“What’s amazing about the piece is that it’s almost 100 years old, and while certain elements do feel dated — other things feel so startlingly now,” said Christina Ritter, director of UK’s production. “Especially coming after the ‘Me Too’ movement, we hear things in a very different way. It's an important play to do now. The style of the piece is coming out of German expressionistic style of the 1920s — the language is formal and stylized, but what’s of more interest to me is how the play and the issues brought up are so very current. The show has a striking relation of the current times.” 

“Machinal" will command the Guignol stage 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 5-7, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8. Tickets to "Machinal" are $10 for students with a university ID and $15 for the general public. To purchase tickets to UK Theatre and Dance's productions at Guignol Theatre, contact the Singletary Center ticket office at 859-257-4929, visit online at, or visit the ticket office in person.

The Department of Theatre and Dance, part of UK College of Fine Arts, is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre. Students in the department get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from professional faculty and renowned guest artists in acting, directing, playwriting, theatrical design and technology. From mainstage productions to student-produced shows, students have plenty of opportunities to participate on stage or backstage. Special programs include a musical theatre certificate, education abroad, as well as a thriving dance program that emphasizes technique, composition, performance and production.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.