Regional premiere of ‘In the Next Room, or the vibrator play’ hits Eastern stage this week

Electrifying, sensual and romantic are the three words director Sara Goff would use to describe her next production at EWU and regional premier of “In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.”

Goff has directed over 30 plays in her career and said “In The Next Room” is one of her personal favorites.

“When I was reading play scripts over summer, I read this one and I was set on doing it,” Goff said. “I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t even question it.”

Goff regarded “In The Next Room” as one of the best romance productions she has ever seen.

The play concerns the early history of the vibrator in the Victorian Era at the dawn of electricity as well as human sexuality, wet-nursing, marital intimacy and human connection.

The play takes place in upstate New York at Dr. Givings’s home. Givings is an upper-middle class doctor who treats women with hysteria.

“Any symptom that men found irritating about women, unmanageable or confusing was considered hysteria,” Goff said. “Hysteria was not associated with anything sexual.”

In the early 1880s, doctors like Givings used the vibrator as a clinical treatment for hysteria.

Before electricity, all treatments were performed manually.

Although the content of the play is personal and somewhat provocative, Goff said she has been impressed with the cast members focus and concentration.

“They’re exceptionally brave in dealing with the content of the play,” she said.

Cast member Chelsey Miles, a senior theater and communications major at EWU, plays the role of Annie, a midwife who assists Dr. Givings with medical procedures.

The content of the play is what sparked an interest for Miles.

“It stuck with me,” Miles said. “I’m doing it for my family, especially the female members. It’s kind of a feminist power type of thing.”

Auditions for the production were held during winter quarter and over 50 people tried out for parts. Only seven were cast.

For Goff, it was difficult to cast the parts. “There were so many talented people,” she said. “It was hard to choose.”

Goff said she hopes the audience leaves feeling inspired.

“I hope the audience takes away a sense of hope that they can find honesty and intimacy in their romantic relationships,” she said. “I hope they have a refreshing and uplifting experience in the theater and feel more deeply connected to themselves as human beings, as well as other human beings.”

The play was originally written by Sarah Ruhl and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and several Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theater in 2010. The play made a Broadway debut in 2009.

Because the play is so new, it took several months for the production company to sign off and allow Goff to produce the play.

“It’s a really big deal that we’re doing it,” Goff said. “If you want to see this play, you aren’t going to go to the Civic Theatre to see it; you’re going to come to EWU and this will be your only opportunity to see it.”



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