Count on it: 'The Adding Machine' to provoke thoughts about man vs. machine | UToledo News

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Count on it: ‘The Adding Machine’ to provoke thoughts about man vs. machine


The UT Department of Theatre and Film will open its first play of the season Friday, Oct. 24, with its production of American playwright Elmer Rice’s “The Adding Machine.”

UT theatre alumna Elif Erturk, who plays Daisy, and theatre student Tyler Mitchell, who has the role of Mr. Zero, rehearsed a scene from the UT production of Elmer Rice’s “The Adding Machine.”

UT theatre alumna Elif Erturk, who plays Daisy, and theatre student Tyler Mitchell, who has the role of Mr. Zero, rehearsed a scene from the UT production of Elmer Rice’s “The Adding Machine.”

The play follows the story of an ordinary accountant, Mr. Zero, who murders his boss after learning he will be replaced at work by an adding machine. This action — his only unique and spontaneous act after a lifetime of obedience — and its consequences are explored in Rice’s expressionistic play.

After he is sentenced and executed for murder, Mr. Zero finds his afterlife to be a most unexpected experience. Funny, sad, poignant and startling, this metaphorical play will be a visually rich contemplation on right and wrong, life and death.

“The character of Zero is an everyman,” said Irene Alby, UT associate lecturer and interim chair of the Department of Theatre and Film, and director of the play. “He’s the lowest common denominator who blames everyone else, never has an original thought, never thinks outside the box. He’s a person who does what he’s told and doesn’t question it. His fear of what others think of him is his driving motivation in life.”

Alby added that the 1923 play is still relevant.

“We’re taking the play out of its time and making it more timeless,” she said. “Its themes are about dehumanizing technology, increased isolation and the mechanization of humanity. Today, we have machines replacing jobs that people used to do, the outsourcing of jobs, the effects of texting and social media replacing face-to-face interaction.”

She said the play will weave modern technology into the action and make use of highly choreographed and heightened movement to enhance the expressionistic style of the writing.

Alby received a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University and has performed under the direction of leading directors, including Andrei Serban and Ralph Lee in New York. She worked with the renowned Canadian company, The Other Theatre, in Montreal on many productions, one of which won the Montreal English Critic Circle Award.

The work of costume designer Erica Frank includes collaboration with the Henson Puppet Workshop on “The Collector of Lies.” She was costume designer for the feature film “Breaking at the Edge”; specialty costume crafter for the NBC’s “Revolution”; tailor/set costumer on the film “The Hunger Games”; and was assistant designer for the film, “Neighborhood Watch.”

Set designer Daniel Thobias has various regional and national theatrical design credits, including Opera Santa Barbara, the Cuttingball Theatre and the Toledo Symphony.

“The Adding Machine” will be presented in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre Friday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 26, and Friday, Oct. 31, through Sunday, Nov. 2. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for general admission; $10 for faculty, staff, alumni and seniors; and $7 for students. They can be purchased online at utoledo.edu/boxoffice, by calling 419.530.2375, or by visiting the Center for Performing Arts Box Office.

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