Machinal, produced by i.e.VR and KU's University Theatre opened in the William Inge Memorial Theatre on October 28, 1999.

SPECIAL THANKS to Electronic Theatre Controls Inc. of Middleton WI, Gam Products Inc. of Hollywood CA, and the University of Kansas Instructional Technologies Fund.

(a conceptual model of the performance space for MACHINAL)

MACHINAL  is  a play in nine episodes by Sophie Treadwell, first produced in 1928 and published in 1929.  The setting is 1920s New York and a seaside hotel.  Suggested by a notorious murder case, this expressionistic play (also produced as The Life Machine) aroused considerable attention in Russia.  It's heroine, referred to as the Young Lady, is stultified by a banal society and a mechanized world, represented by a profusion of offstage sounds.  The role of the lover was played on Broadway by the then-unknown Clark Gable.

When the play opened in 1928 one review called it "a tragedy of submission."  Written in an expressionistic style, the play, Treadwell once said, is about "a young woman, ready, eager for life, for love...but deadened, squeezed, crushed by the machinelike quality of the life surrounding."

In the story of an innocent stenographer who supports her sickly, demanding mother, and who decides to marry her avaricious boss as if she were stepping off a cliff in a dream, there are echoes of a trial Treadwell once covered.  The defendants, Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray, were sentenced to death for the murder of Snyder's husband.  With this, Snyder became the first woman to die in the electric chair.

Our production of this American classic drew upon, and further refined the techniques we discovered in past i.e.VR productions. The main scenic elements consisted of virtual environments projected in stereoscopic 3D onto rear-projection screens. Thanks to assistance from the KU Instructional Technology Fund, this production employed new Digital Light Processing projectors, powerful computer workstations and state-of-the-art VR software. We also incorporated a variety live and recorded video images.

At the same time Avi Mor conducted experiments in pre-visualization of stage lighting. Using precise color information on filters supplied by Gam Products Avi was able to simulate stage lighting conditions with Kinetix 3D Studio Viz software. Thanks to the loan of ETC Source4 lighting instruments, Avi had precise, predictable lighting equipment that very closely resembled the ideal lighting photometrics characteristic of virtual lighting. For illustrations of this experiment look to Avi's website.

The Virtual Sets for Machinal are available for download! CLICK HERE

You can run these virtual settings on your own computer. Add some hand puppets and stage your own production of Machinal on your desktop!


Ronald A. Willis - Director
Mark Reaney - Scenic Designer/Technologist
Delores Ringer- Costume Designer
Avraham Mor - Lighting Designer/Modeler
Rick Jones - Sound Designer
Nate Hughes - Set Designer
Eric Hugunin - Assistant Scenic Designer
Casey Kearns - Assistant Costume Designer
Lance Gharavi - Production Associate
Original Music By:
Michael Sidney Timpson
David Herpich
Todd Hershberger
Joey Hinson

The Cast
Kristen Bush - Helen
Becky Lake - Telephone Girl, Mother 2
Sarah Graalman - Woman, Nurse, Bailiff
Shawna Smith - Mother
Maureen Perry - Stenographer, Matron
Jeremy Spencer - Filing Clerk, Defense Lawyer
Zach Lyndon - Jones
John Luzar - Clerk, Doctor, Prosecutor
Daemon Hatfield - Dick Roe
Damon Klassen - Priest, Harry, Judge
Yujji Tsuboi - Waiter, Reporter
Mark Campbell Policeman, Huckster, Reporter

Costume Sketches for Helen and Dick Roe by Delores Ringer

Click on the pictures above for larger images!

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