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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Confining Women: The Physical World of Machinal
by Lin, Xiyu, M.F.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2018, 27; 10752184
Abstract (Summary)

In order to understand the world of Machinal, I researched the Snyder-Gray trial that inspired Sophie Treadwell to write the piece. This trial, in which a seemingly innocuous housewife was accused of conspiring with her lover to murder her husband, was a springboard to create the drama titled Machinal. The analysis of the Ruth Snyder case revealed a disguised misogyny that would be reflected in my scenic design, which depicts the world of Helen, grappling with her husband for freedom under the societal expectations of women. In the background, the ever-present typists sit on a platform looking down upon the stage, effectively blocking Helen’s exits. Recording her life in real time, they represent the prevailing public opinions that influenced Helen’s decisions. Trapped downstage, the bed was the only place where Helen could hide or protect herself from social pressures; it symbolized both her sanctuary and her prison. My scenic design created a simple but effective world to tell the story of Machinal, emphasizing the concept that, although Helen was freed by death, social oppression and discrimination against women persists to the present day.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Korogodsky, Danila
Commitee: Jacques, David Martin, Smith, Nancy Jo
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Theatre Arts
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 57/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Theater
Publication Number: 10752184
ISBN: 978-0-438-02429-8
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