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Release: Oct. 26, 2001

University Theatres Second Stage produces second of two classic double bills Nov. 8-11

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University Theatres Second Stage will present two theatrical classics of alienation and murder in the modern world, "Machinal" by Sophie Treadwell and "Woyzeck" by Georg Buechner, Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 8-11 in the David Thayer Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

Performances of "Machinal" will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. "Woyzeck" will be performed at 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Each day of the run theatergoers will have the choice to attend either one of the productions, or to attend both at a special price.

The "Machinal/Woyzeck" combination is the second of two classic double bills, produced by University Theatres Second Stage on consecutive weekends. The Greek tragedies "Agamemnon" and "Electra" were performed Nov. 1-4.

Each production features direction by a second-year student in the Master of Fine Arts directing program in the UI department of theatre arts. "Machinal" is directed by Liza Williams, and "Woyzeck" is directed by Jeremy Wilhelm.

An American journalist, actress and dramatist, Treadwell lived from 1890 to 1970, and she is remembered almost exclusively for "Machinal," written in 1928. In an expressionistic style, Treadwell responded to a sensationalistic murder case with a depiction of a character known only as the Young Woman, futilely seeking love and freedom amidst the machines and materialism of the modern world.

Williams says, "In an age where much of our daily interactions are through the internet or mass media, this play continues to be highly topical. We all face the negotiation of how to maintain deep and meaningful connections while interacting with the anonymity of a television or computer screen. Our success or failure is often a product of our own making."

Buechner based his play on the case of Johann Christian Woyzeck, a soldier who murdered his mistress in a jealous rage, and the subsequent medical/legal controversy about his sanity. Buechner wrote a variety of "Woyzeck" scenes -- depicting the soldier as an isolated, deeply religious man encountering a variety of alienations and provocations -- but he never organized the scenes into a specific order or chronology, providing both challenges and opportunities for directors.

"As he is increasingly estranged from his family and eventually himself, Woyzeck is not so much driven to the murder of his wife as led by the hand," Wilhelm says. "The forces that are leading him are beyond our comprehension, but Woyzeck, by the end of the play, seems poised to tell us what they are: 'Every man's a chasm. It makes you dizzy when you look down in.'"

Buechner (1813-1837) was a German physician, political activist and playwright. Although he died of typhoid at the age of 23, his few works of drama, hurriedly written in a period of only two years, established him for later generations as one of the seminal figures in modern world drama.

Among the adaptations inspired by "Woyzeck" have been the Alban Berg opera "Wozzeck" and director Werner Herzog's acclaimed film starring Klaus Kinski.

Admission to the Second Stage productions, at the door, will be $5 ($3 for UI students) to one play, or $8 ($5 for UI students) to both plays on the same day.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <>. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>. The Department of Theatres Arts is part of the UI Division of Performing Arts, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.