COLUMBUS, Ohio — With its production of "Machinal," theater group The Sound Company is debuting a brand-new take on an old play that feels as modern and relevant as ever.
First taking the stage nearly a century ago in 1928, Sophie Treadwell's expressionist play tells the story of a young woman under pressure from societal expectations who is driven to murder.
"'Machinal,' at its heart is a play about the ways in which we create structures, both seen and unseen, that limit the ways that women are free and self-govern their own path in life," said Sean Naughton, the director of the play and co-producing artistic director of The Sound Company.
The lead character in "Machinal," Jess Hughes, said the play is about a woman who doesn't feel seen or heard in society.
"I think that that experience is really relatable for a lot of women," Hughes said.
From its founding in 2021, The Sound Company has been dedicated to being more than just an entertaining experience.
"There is so much entertainment in the world right now, and so I think one of the big questions we face as theater artists is 'why is theater relevant?' At our company, we wanted to tap into the civic imagination to invite people to believe that they are civic agents of change in their community," Hughes said.
The company does this by partnering with civic-minded organizations in central Ohio that are focused on the real-world topics and themes of the plays that are produced.
After each performance, The Sound Company works with their community partners to host conversations in the performance space about the issues at hand. For "Machinal," The Sound Company will partner with the Ohio Center for Sex Education for the first weekend of shows and the Returning Artists' Guild for the second weekend to discuss the global attack on women's rights and the need to move away from mass incarceration respectively.
"Something that we say at The Sound Company is that all theater is community theater," explained Naughton, "What we mean by this is that all theater is really at its best when it's addressing the major issues and able to speak to and point to the big ways in which we are getting along in our communities and our societies."
The Sound Company's production of "Machinal" runs May 18 through May 28 at MadLab Theatre in downtown Columbus. Tickets and showtimes can be found here.