Wake up. Go to class. Eat. Study. Go to bed. Repeat. Sometimes, life in college can feel like a mechanical repetition of these steps for days on end. If you identify with this sentiment, consider disrupting your daily routine to go see someone else’s in the Rude Mechanicals’ production of “Machinal.”


Tonight and Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Mendelssohn Theatre
From $3

An expressionist work written by playwright Sophie Treadwell, “Machinal” follows a woman stuck in a post-industrial society. She works as a secretary, performing the same repetitive tasks day after day. Eventually, she breaks from her ritualistic existence by murdering her husband.

“The main character goes to work as a secretary, and everyone around her has one job,” said Education junior Grace Hawkins, one of the producers of the show. “There is the telephone girl who says the same things over and over and the lawyers who are mechanical in nature. You think of the ‘It’s a Small World After All’ ride.”

Last semester, the Rudes performed “Hamlet” as inspired by “Mad Men.” They updated the troubled Danes’ looks with 1960s-style men’s suits and women’s cocktail dresses. For each show, they try to pursue a different creative direction.

“(We’re) using video projections of footage the director took in Japan over Christmas break,” Hawkins said. “It represents … a society where you are a cog in the machine.”

These video projections are meant to set the mood of the play, but they also serve a more unconventional function: as elements that interact with the set and characters in the play.

“Machinal” is Music, Theatre & Dance senior Sango Tajima’s directorial debut. The show’s producers chose Tajima out of a pool of five other applicants. Once chosen by the producers, the director auditioned actors and actresses.

“We selected Sango because we felt really good about it. There is something very original and interesting about her approach,” Hawkins said.

In her application to the producers, Tajima wrote: “The mechanical aspect will not only be overstated. The actors play their characters as zombie robots. I want to have characters who are as real as possible, but their actions and speech are very mechanical. This balance will be chilling.”

The Rude Mechanicals is entirely student-run. They receive funding for their shows from the University Activities Center. UAC works with the group to schedule performance dates as well, since the Rudes perform in the University-owned Mendelssohn Theatre.

To make the most of the money they receive, the students in the Rudes often help with show essentials, such as set design.

“One thing the Rudes require is that the actors and the production team have to help build the set,” Hawkins said. “Literally all the actors will be hammering on Sunday. They won’t be acting; they will be organizing the costumes — it’s very hands-on.”

Now: Read article. Go to class. Eat. Study. With the mechanical nature of our own daily routine, “Machinal” could ring especially poignant.

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