SETO to perform ‘The Adding Machine’ this week

“The Adding Machine” explores deeper questions about humanity and technology, without answering them for the audience, according to senior theater major and director Kourtnee Brenner.

"The Adding Machine," a play produced by SETO opens this week

The SIUE Student Experimental Theater Organization (SETO) has produced and will perform the play written by Elmer Rice in 1922.

According to Brenner, “The Adding Machine” is about a man who is caught up in the routine of life and, suddenly, is forced into action.

“He goes on a journey that not only changes his life but his very existence,” Brenner said.

Brenner added that she has enjoyed working on the show with her cast of colleagues.

“I love this cast” Brenner said. “This show is so complex and it’s so deep that it takes a lot of thinking and a lot of research. It really is all about the cast because they’re willing to discover for themselves how to find [how] the characters would be, and that’s the best thing a director can work with.”

According to Brenner, as director she needs to trust the actors’ instincts because a lot of the times they are true reactions reacting in the moment.

“It’s my job as director to guide them through the journey of the play not to tell them where to stand and tell them where to sit,” she said.

Senior theater major Bryan Arnold said he has enjoyed exploring the lead role Mr. Zero’s character.

“I like that I’ve never played someone like him,” Arnold said. “He’s 45, he’s a lot older nearing the middle of his life and dealing with issues that I don’t have to deal with so much. His job is kind of going downhill really quickly and he’s losing himself amid all the problems in his life.”

Arnold added that he likes how the show deals with ideas that are bigger than everyday life, but it does not give you answers.

“It deals with the afterlife, and religion and God and nationalism and a lot of ideas that people on a college campus explore but people outside of school don’t give a whole lot of thought to,” he said.

Junior theater major Olivia Foort said she really likes playing Mrs. Zero, the lead’s wife.

“She’s very conflicted and she’s stuck in a pretty unhappy marriage to a guy who’s not doing much with his life,” she said. “But she still loves him and still is somehow trying to kind save whatever she can of this marriage.”

Foort explained that a lot of the characters are ideas.

“Their names are numbers which is where they are in terms of social status,” Foort said.

The play, according to Foort, uses broad, general characters but gives a message about humanity that is more complex.

Arnold said Mr. Zero’s character is very flat: his actions and the way he treats people are very stereotypical.

“But if you invest time and effort into exploring his actions and exploring his motivations and how he came to be who he is, then you will see he is complex just like any other real person in life,” Arnold said.

“The Adding Machine” will run in Dunham Hall from Feb. 11-14 at 7:30 p.m. and on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m.

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