Performing Arts students show ‘maturity and depth’ in production of Machinal - CCCG
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Performing Arts students show ‘maturity and depth’ in production of Machinal

Aspiring actors from City and Islington College (CANDI) brought Sophie Treadwell’s dark and powerful drama Machinal to the stage for their final show of the year.

Performing Arts students show ‘maturity and depth’ in production of Machinal

The nine-strong cast of HNC Performing Arts students portrayed multiple characters in the play, which was inspired by the real-life case of convicted and executed murderer Ruth Snyder.

The play is about a young woman who works as a stenographer and conforms to what society expects of women in the United States in the 1920s despite her feelings of resistance.

She later marries her boss, who she despises and after having a baby with him has an affair with a younger man. Despite feeling more fulfilled, she is driven to murder her husband and subsequently found guilty and sent to the electric chair.

The play was written in 1928 and its premiere, noted for Clark Gable’s Broadway debut, is considered one of the highpoints of expressionist theatre on the American stage.

It is divided into nine episodes. Most of the characters do not have names and are simply known in the script by an archetypal description of their character or job.

Performing Arts students show ‘maturity and depth’ in production of Machinal

The cast included Dariia Alieksieienko, Ivana Bekirova, Tara Casey, Esther Lafa, Rafeala Niculae, Aaliyah Pryce, Kerry-Ann Alvarez Trivino, James Whittington-Phillips and Margo Zaiets.

Dariia, 23, said: “We did a lot of research into real stories about women and their rights in different countries in the world, which helped in understanding the feelings of the young woman in the play.

“It was challenging playing a character who is quite complicated, and it was hard to understand how to play her. It is not just about her story, but about her relationships and her emotions, and how you express that to the audience.”

James, 19, said: “I’ve done other plays where I have had to play several different characters. One of the biggest challenges of multi-roling is making each character different by changing your voice, the way you move and attitude to other characters on stage. It can be difficult, but it’s also fun having to morph into a different person almost instantaneously.

“Over the course of my three years at CANDI, I’ve learnt a lot and really enjoyed my time here. I used to be quite nervous and have seen a change in myself from when I started to where I am now. One of the main reasons for that is the support I’ve had from my tutors. They’ve taught me how to break down and develop characters, which has helped take my performances to the next level.”

Performing Arts students show ‘maturity and depth’ in production of Machinal

Machinal was directed by Curriculum Leader Tim Chaundy supported by a backstage crew including Performing Arts Lecturer Casandra Popplestone and Theatre Production Technicians Natalie Tomlin and Ray Thompson.

Tim said: “Machinal is one of the great American plays and it is a challenge to perform and design because of various locations, intense characterisation and dialogue.

“The cast did an incredible job, playing multiple characters with a number of quick costume changes and lots of props. Even more challenging was the emotional content of the storytelling which the actors evoked with maturity and depth. The production team created an amazing metal-looking expressionistic set that could be manipulated into the different locations of the play.

“Overall, the production was a huge success with all the students performing as a close-knit ensemble, and by the end of the play the audience was challenged to think differently about the role of women within the modern world.”

Find out more about Performing Arts courses at CANDI and apply here.


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