The Infernal Machine

The Infernal Machine

By Jean Cocteau 

“Refashioning of the Oedipus Myth”

Translated by Donald McManus, Hilary Gopnik & Oona Luna Gopnik McManus

Directed by Donald McManus and Mary Lynn Owen

Streaming for free April 13-25 

The Infernal Machine is Jean Cocteau’s re-fashioning of the Oedipus myth.  Cocteau begins the play much like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with the ghost of King Laius appearing to the soldiers who guard the city. Jocasta, widow of Laius, comes to hear from the soldiers about this apparition. In Act II we meet Oedipus on the road when he encounters the Sphinx on outskirts of Thebes. Act III takes place on the wedding night of Oedipus and Jocasta. Act IV takes place 17 years later when there is a plague upon the city and the truth about incest and murder is brought to light. The Infernal Machine is at times comic, strange, magical, topical, frightening and sublime. It is a high point of early 20th-Century drama that combines rich language, classic characters and fascinating imagery. Written between WWI and WWII it looks back on the errors of the past and ahead to the future with trepidation, but courage.

 Closed captioning available. 


The Infernal Machine Program



Ash Aiken- Messenger, Shepard

Joe Ambarian- Captain

Nic Bogan- Oedipus

Colleen Carroll- Matron, The Son Puppet Voice

Johnny Hall- Soldier, Anubis

Christopher Hampton- Ghost, Drunkard, Creon

Caitlin Hargraves- Jocasta

Bryan Mercer- Tiresias

Sabrina Parra Díaz- Sphinx, The Son Puppet Operator

Caroline Stewart- Young Soldier, Antigone

Tara Zhang- The Voice


Artistic/Production Staff


Donald McManus- Director/Artistic Director

Mary Lynn Owen- Director

Translated by Donald McManus†, Hilary Gopnik†, Oona Luna Gopnik McManus†

Rosalind Staib- Managing Director

Alexis McKay†- Stage Manager

Ellen Curry- Assistant Stage Manager

April Carswell- Costume/Mask Design

Julien Nathan- Assistant Costume Design

Kayla Fallick- Costume Shop Assistant, Marketing Assistant

Morgan Glover- Costume Shop Assistant

Sara Ward Culpepper- Scenic Designer/Stop Motion Animation

Bryan Mercer- Composer/Sound Designer

Ryan Bradburn- Props/Stop Motion Animation

Milton Cordero- Video Director/Graphics/Video Editor

Caitlin Volz- Production Manager

Julie A. Richardson- Interim Production Stage Manager

Aaron Mayer- Technical Director

Malina Rodriguez- Assistant Technical Director

Amanda Whitfield- Costume Shop Manager

Quinay Baker†- Interim Costume Shop Coordinator

Meredith Payne Albert- Lighting/Sound Engineer

Meghan Truhett- Company Manager/Marketing Specialist

Stephanie Patton Butler- Finance/Accounting Specialist

Production Assistants: Heidi Chung, Rachel Broun, Gracie Fraser, Drew Mindell, Gabriella Lewis, Sabrina Schoenborn, Maggie Whittemore


† A professional artist or member of the Emory faculty or staff

‡ A member of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theater honor society


The Infernal Machine Director's Note

Jean Cocteau was an iconoclastic visual artist, choreographer, film maker, poet, essayist, actor and playwright. Cocteau was partly inspired to write The Infernal Machine by archaeological discoveries in Egypt and Mesopotamia in the early 20th century. By exploring the Oedipus story Cocteau wanted to revisit one of the central myths of ‘western’ culture and refresh it with a more worldly point of view.  He and his fellow avant-garde artists looked beyond the Eurocentric notions of an artistic ideal they had inherited from the academy.  Asia, the Near East and Africa were particularly rich sources for new ways of seeing, depicting, hearing and telling stories.  Theater Emory’s production of La Machine Infernal explores this instinct to break away from received ideas of the perfect work of art.  Our original translation strives to render Cocteau’s blend of poetic language and common speech.  We are indebted to the acting company and co-director Mary Lynn Owen who helped shape the final draft of the text through rehearsal. - Donald McManus