Frequently Asked Questions
* How may one obtain production or publication rights to Treadwell's works?

The rights to Treadwell's works are owned by the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Tucson:  A Corporation Sole, from whom production rights must be obtained.  Inquiries should be addressed to:  Manager, Fiscal & administrative Services, Diocese of Tucson, PO Box 31, Tucson, AZ 85702.  Proceeds from the printing or production of Sophie Treadwell's works are used for the aid and benefit of Native American children in Arizona.

*Why did Treadwell transfer the rights to her work to the Diocese of Tucson?

As Treadwell's health worsened after her retirement to Tucson, Arizona, her lawyer advised her to identify a charitable organization to which rights to her works could be donated after her death.  Treadwell's affinity for indigenous populations in the U.S. and Mexico is easily evidenced in her journalistic writings.  Thus, when she requested an organization with existing programs to benefit Native American children, her lawyer suggested the Diocese of Tucson.

*Are there other collections of Treadwell's work besides the one at the University of Arizona?

The Billy Rose Theatre Collection at the New York Public Library holds the largest collection of Treadwell materials outside of the University of Arizona.  It maintains an extensive clippings collection, production photographs, limited correspondence and typescripts of eight of Treadwell's plays.  The library's Theatre on Film and Tape Archive contains a videotape of the 1990 New York Shakespeare Festival revival of Machinal

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. houses thirty-five copyrighted manuscripts by Treadwell.  These works are listed, along with their registraton numbers and copyright dates, in an appendix to Louise Heck-Rabi's doctoral dissertation, "Sophie Treadwell:  Subjects and Structues in 20th Century American Drama, "Diss. Wayne State U, 1976.

*Are production promptbooks available in the Treadwell collection at the University of Arizona?

Many of Treadwell's plays exist in several manuscript versions at the University of Arizona.  Some of these manuscripts include revision notes made by Treadwell during production. A few contain staging notations by a stage manager.  No promptbook exists from the 1928 production of Machinal.

* What is the proper pronunciation of Treadwell's play Machinal?

Treadwell chose "machinal' from a word in French usage meaning "mechanical," "automatic," or "involuntary."  Much confusion has surrounded its pronunciation in English, although the typical American pronunciation of the play is "MOCK-en-al."  Some playbills for the 1928 Broadway production listed "MAK-i-nal" as the pronunciation, although some New York reviews of the time used both "ma-SHIN-al" and "MA-shin-al."  During the 1990 revival of the play in New York, some critics added "mock-en-AHL" to the mix, and the Royal National Theatre's 1993 playbill added a British pronunciation, "MAK-in-al" (long A). In discussion with those who knew Treadwell, it appears she preferred "MA-shin-al."

*How closely does Machinal parallel the circumstances of the Ruth Snyder murder trial?

In 1928, theatre critics were divided over whether or not the play mirrored the events relating to Snyder, although some of the costume choices for the Broadway production, especially in the trial scene, attempted to link the two women.  In a 1928 manuscript that pre-dates the production, Treadwell clearly indicates that the play was suggested by Snyder's trial.  The most insightful critical comparison of the circumstances of two women is an article by Jennifer Jones titled "In Defense of Women:  Sophie Treadwell's Machinal," Modern Drama 37 (1994): 485-96.  Ginger Strand has also written on the comparison of the play to the Snyder trial, both in "American Stages: Representation and the News Drama," Diss. Princeton U, 1992: 103-48 and Treadwell's Neologism: Machinal," Theatre Journal 44(1992): 163-75.  Information about the Snyder trial may be found in Ann Jones, Women Who Kill (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980; rpt. Beacon P, 1996) and especially john Kobler, The Trial of Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1938).

*Where can one find production histories and descriptions of Treadwell's plays?

To date, twelve of Treadwell's plays have been produced.  A production history of each up to 1995 may be found in Jerry Dickey, Sophie Treadwell:  a Research and Production Sourcebook (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997). Production personnel is provided and each production is cross-referenced to critical reviews found in the book's bibliography. The Sourcebook also provides character lists, detailed plot summaries, brief critical overviews, and notes on manuscript variations for each of Treadwell's plays. It includes an exhaustive primary and secondary bibliography through 1996.

Selected Secondary Bibliography

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