The Infernal Machine

Hangar Theatre, Wedge Series

by Jean Cocteau

Directed by Paul Bedard

Sound Design by Garrett Hood

Scenic Design by Dan Daly

Costume Design by Camilla Morrison

Lighting Design by Topher Stumreiter

For this adaptation of Jean Cocteau's The Infernal Machine, the director and design team wanted to expose the shape of the unseen godly power which propels 21st century American society each day. A retelling of the Oedipus myth, the play shows characters bent to the will of forces beyond their own ecosystem and control. To accentuate the futility of their physical action, many portions of the play were staged on stationary exercise bicycles. The role of the sound design was to reinforce the cyclical, reflexive oppression of the machine.

photo by Topher Stumreiter

The Infernal Machine - Bicycles Begin
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One approach I took for the design was to record the onstage exercise bikes and play the manipulated recordings back simultaneously with the real bicycles the actors pedaled. This cue opened the show and established that convention.

photo by Topher Stumreiter

The Infernal Machine - The Sphinx
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Part of our adaptation included casting the Sphinx as a character in drag. This composition acted as an underscore for a rhyme the Sphinx and Anubis delivered in iambic pentameter. 

photo by Topher Stumreiter

The Infernal Machine - Bicycles End
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At the end of the play after Oedipus mutilates himself, there is a moment of calm when the machine has finished unwinding his life. Then, each character gets back on their exercise bike and begins pedaling again. This cue ended the show and cut the action off sharply at a blackout--the cycle continues.