MACHINAL Is First Tech-Imbued IDEAS Performance of 2017

San Diego, January 9, 2017 — A new theatrical and multimedia work developed and staged by graduate students at the University of California San Diego, MACHINAL, will be the first performance of 2017 in the Qualcomm Institute's Initiative for Digital Exploration of Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) performance series. MACHINAL It is also the third work staged in the 2016-2017 season of IDEAS. The performance will take place on Thursday, January 12 from 5pm to 7pm in the Calit2 Theater in Atkinson Hall on the UC San Diego campus.

Poster for MACHINAL

The performance will use the Vroom wall-size display system in the Calit2 Theater for a live performance and interaction with live audience. “MACHINAL is an artistic experiment based on big questions about what live theatre can be and how technology and machines have changed the landscape of our human interactions in the world today,” says Will Detlefsen, an MFA candidate in Directing (expected in 2017) and one of the graduate students behind MACHINAL.

Detlefsen’s collaborators on the performance include: Mary Glen Fredrick (actor), Grady Kestler (sound designer), Annie Le (designer), Steven Leffue (sound designer), Anna Robinson (designer), Brandon Rosen (lighting designer), Ph.D. student Kristen Tregar, Enrico Nassi (MFA actor), Stephanie Del Rosso (MFA playwright), and Kasson Marroquin (production stage manager).

The piece is an artistic experiment that asks questions about what live theatre can be and how technology and machines have changed the landscape of our human interactions in the world today. Based on the real-life case of Ruth Snyder, this devised performance is the story of a woman caged in a male-dominated, mechanized, materialistic world who murders her husband in order to be set free.

The performance is based, in part, on the 1928 play MACHINAL by Sophie Treadwell, based on the true story of the first woman sentenced to the electric chair for murdering her husband. Performer/sonic interactions in MACHINAL will feature EEG-driven sound sources developed by Italian computer musician Francesco Roberto Dani.

Now in its fourth season, the Qualcomm Institute’s primary performance series, IDEAS, features nine works that cross disciplinary boundaries at the intersection of art and technology. The performances and artist residencies were awarded after a peer-review competition open to faculty and graduate students in Music, Theatre and Dance, as well as Visual Arts and engineering disciplines.

According to IDEAS selection committee chair Shahrokh Yadegari, a professor of Music at UC San Diego, “this year’s programs bring faculty, students and researchers the performative and presentational context for interdisciplinary artistic and scientific endeavors taking advantage of the state-of-the-art technologies available at Qualcomm Institute."

Mark your calendars: The next performance in the IDEAS series, The Burden of Selfhood, will take place on Thursday, March 23 from 5pm to 7pm. The performance in the Calit2 Theater will feature Stefani Byrd, Sarah Ciston, Amy Fox, and Fernanda Navarro.

FREE and open to the public.
Media Contact: Doug Ramsey
RSVP requested to Trish Stone


WILL DETLEFSEN is a second-year MFA student. He most recently directed the world premieres of T. Adamson'sHouse & Variations and Toni Schlesinger's The Mystery of Pearl Street, both at Dixon Place. Last fall he directed the New York revival of Sarah Kane's Blasted. He was awarded the 2013 Drama League Fellowship and directed Wendy Dann's The Stranger Plays, A Year with Frog & Toad, and a stage adaptation of Jean-Luc Godard's film Breathless at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca. Detlefsen is also the artistic director of New York-based theatre company, MultiPurposeRoom, for which he directed Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party and devised/directed Televise THIS!, BUILDINGS, and YEAR of the HIPPO. Detlefsen's assisting credits include Terry Kinney, Rachel Chavkin, Young Jean Lee, and Robert Moss. UC San Diego credits: Death of a Driver, Hamlet, The Burial at Thebes. BFA: NYU.

STEVEN LEFFUE is also a Theatre and Dance MFA student (Sound Design) at UC San Diego. He holds additional degrees from Bowling Green State University, University of Florida, University of Maryland, and the Conservatoire National de Region Boulogne Billancourt. Leffue is a frequent collaborator with OBIE award-winning theater company Hoi Polloi and a cofounder of the Brooklyn-based performance venue, JACK. Theatrical credits include Baal, The Georges: A Brief History of Japanese Theater, WGRG-TV, Plato's The Republic, Beckett Solos: Cascando, Footfalls, & Rockaby, Night Blooming Jasmine, Cassavetes Shadows, Alarmed, Outcry, and Billy the Kid: First Exhumation (2009 DC Fringe Festival).

MARY GLEN FREDRICK is a second-year MFA actor, hailing from Kansas City. She received a degree in Race and Ethnicity Studies from Stanford University, where she performed with and directed for the Stanford Shakespeare Company, Robber Barons Sketch Comedy Troupe, and Ram’s Head Theatrical Society. Regional: Up Here (La Jolla Playhouse World Premiere); As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale (Heart of America Shakespeare Festival). UC San Diego: Widower (WNPF),The Burial at Thebes, Hamlet, LEAR, The Cherry Orchard, The Venetian Twins.

GRADY KESTLER is a Theatre and Dance MFA student (in Sound Design) at UC San Diego, where he earned his BA in Music/Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts (ICAM), with a Minor in Computer Science. Working under Theatre and Dance Professor Shahrokh Yadegari, Kestler has worked on multiple interdisciplinary projects combining artistic and engineering skill. Among these projects are the MUGIC protocol, a transaction-based graphics programming tool to be used with the Qualcomm Institute's virtual-reality system, and the Space Unit Generator, three-dimensional and binaural audio implementations of Dick Moore's outer room model for spatialization. Along with his artistic endeavors, Kestler is also pursuing his interest in Digital Signal Processing through the Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

ANNIE LE is an MFA Design student.

KASSON MARROQUIN is Kasson Marroquin is a first-year stage management MFA student at UC San Diego. He received his B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in Stage Management and a minor in English from the University of North Texas in May 2012, where he also received an honors award for Outstanding Student in Theater in 2012. Kasson then served as a production intern for the American Dance Festival during the summers of 2012 and 2014, where he continued his education in learning all aspects of working as a technician in this field from load-in to load-out of each company. While an intern at ADF in 2012 Kasson stage managed an original dance piece titled Akulalutho that was choreographed by Reggie Wilson, and designed lights for an excerpt from Labyinth choreographed by Mark Dendy. During his time at ADF in 2014 he stage-managed an original work titled Big Daddy (choreographed by Stephen Petronio) as well as designed lights for an excerpt from Every Little Movement (choreographed by Gerri Houlihan). Kasson has worked as a freelancing professional stage manager and general theater technician in Dallas, TX for the past three years since his graduation.

ENRICO NASSI, playing the role of Man, is an MFA Actor, director, and playwright based out of San Diego, California. He holds a Master's degree in Western Classics from St. John’s College, Annapolis and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Art in Acting at UC San Diego. 

ANNA ROBINSON is a second-year MFA Scenic Designer. She graduated with a first class BA Honours degree focusing on Scenic and Projection Design at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Scenic and Projection design credits: Summerfolk, Lovesong (Victoria University), Lady Liberty (NZ Fringe Festival), What Goes Up, The Things We Do (Bats Theatre), Second Afterlife (Young and Hungry Festival), Seed (Circa Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Wellington Opera House), UC San Diego credits: New Directions, Precipitate, winterWorks 2016, The Cherry Orchard (assistant) and Movers + Shakers (assistant).

BRANDEN ROSEN is a second-year MFA Lighting Design student at UC San Diego, where he is studying theatrical lighting design. Selected lighting design credits include The Bitter Game (La Jolla Playhouse), Heaven on Earth (Sledgehammer Theatre - WoW Festival 2015), and Adrift in Macao (Texas State University). Selected Assistant Lighting Design credits include October Sky (Old Globe), Fiddler on the Roof and The Originalist (Arena Stage), and Jesus Christ Superstar (Teatro Nacional de Panama). He was the Lighting Fellow for Arena Stage’s 2014-2015 season and holds a BFA in Theatre Design & Technology from Texas State University. UC San Diego Credits: Damascus, Rhinoceros (Assistant), Movers + Shakers (Assistant).

STEPHANIE DEL ROSSO is first-year MFA Playwright who did the adaptation. Her plays have been developed or presented at Soho Rep, Clubbed Thumb, New York Stage and Film, Colt Coeur, Naked Angels, Judson Memorial Church, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Caldera Arts, the Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal, and others. She is a two-time semi-finalist for Clubbed Thumb’s Biennial Commission, an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and Clubbed Thumb’s Early-Career Writers’ Group, and a New Georges Affiliated Artist. BA: Northwestern University.  

KRISTEN TREGAR is a Ph.D. student in the Theatre and Dance department at UC San Diego. Kristen Tregar hails originally from Rhode Island but has spent the last 15 years in New York. For the last 7 years, she taught science and drama at an independent school in the Hudson Valley. While there, she developed an international devised theatre collaboration with several artists in Dublin, Ireland. She completed her MS in Forensic Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice- CUNY and her MA in Educational Theatre at NYU- Steinhardt. Kristen has worked in a variety of animal-related positions including as a Wild Animal Keeper with the Wildlife Conservation Society. She has two rescued dogs, Marlon and Peanut, and she rides and competes with her horses, Rhiannon and Torchwood. She has a fondness for foreign languages, cultures, and cuisines, and a special interest in local farming and foods, which she shares with her husband Sam.