Hot Dog!

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My favorite thing about this play is that the constant use of repetition throughout the play gives the dialogue an almost musical nature. This was obviously the author's intent, because on page xi under "The Hope" it says that the production will hopefully "have 'style,'" through "...the excitement of its sounds". The opening scene seems like an elaborate song created from the various dialogues of the individual workers, capped off with my favorite line "Hot dog." Here is an example, (page 3)

STENOGRAPHER. She's late again, huh?
TELEPHONE GIRL. Out with her sweetie last night, huh?
FILING CLERK. Hot dog.
ADDING CLERK. She ain't got a sweetie.
STENOGRAPHER. How do you know?
ADDING CLERK. I know.
FILING CLERK. Hot dog.
(As a side note this page alone says Hot dog. 4 times)

While none of this is that important to the story in general, it made the play flow nicely for me, and brought the unimportant characters more to life.  Sophie Treadwell, at least to me, has created a musical with no singing.

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5 Comments

Rachael Sarver said:

I really would have never thought of that in a million years. This is why this crazy blogging stuff is so great, you have so many different people interpreting one work. I can totally picture a musical now with a crazy filing clerk running around singing "Hot Dog." And the young womans rants would almost make more sense if this was a musical production.

Great observation, Andrew... I've never seen a production of Machinal (though one of the theater profs likes this play and says he does want to do it sometime). But if I were to direct this scene, I'd make the characters work together as if they are clattering gears in a machine, and the rhythm of their speech would make it like music, even if their voices were mostly flat and lifeless.

Christopher Dufalla said:

When I was reading, I found the use of "hot dog" to be quite agitating. I gathered that Treadwell was going for realism and the everyday mannerisms that float around (as much as "hot dog" might be an everyday exclamation...perhaps in 1923), but I found it so very annoying. And then I realized- there are annoying people in everyday life (I think that I fall into that category myself often-times). Great point, Andrew. I didn't quite pick up on that idea of sing-song the first time (or the second time, for that matter).

Christopher, I would argue very strongly that Treadwell was not going for realism at all. Just the simple fact that the Young Woman at the end of many of the scenes says all of her stream-of-consciousness thoughts out loud indicates to me that this play is presenting things very much from the Young Woman's viewpoint and not from a realistic objective viewpoint. All of the other characters are rather flat and one-dimensional, and I think this is intentional. As I've commented on Nathan Hart's blog, I think the constant repetition of "hot dog" is supposed to be exaggerated to an annoying level, because this is the way the Young Woman hears it. Maybe this is just because I read what the discussion topic on the website is going to be for Monday, but I would say this play is more expressionistic than realistic--which from what I've learned as a theatre major means the events of the play are not portrayed anything close to what they would be like in real life, but exaggerated according to how a certain character perceives them.

Andrew Adams said:

Matt, I never thought about it quite like that but it does make sense. The people are probably more annoying to the Young Woman than they actually are. However, a lot of this "annoying" dialogue takes place before she even arrives at the office, so I still feel like it was mostly to just create a certain mood. For me it was actually kind of funny picturing the scene in my head. It reminded of one of those bands that just plays with trash can lids and assorted materials to create something that is fun to listen to.

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Rachael Sarver on Hot Dog!: I really would have never thou