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.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.