URI Theatre’s 2015-2016 season officially kicks off on Oct. 15 with a show that is sure to draw plenty of attention just based on its unusual name.
The Tony-nominated show entitled “In The Next Room” or (“The Vibrator Play”), is written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by URI’s Bryna Wortman.
Set in New York in 1883, “In The Next Room” is a comedy of manners (a type of comedy that satirizes social classes) focusing on two sexually frustrated wives at the dawn of an invention that would change sex for good: the vibrator. One of the women’s husbands, a doctor, uses the vibrator as a technical object to help a person experience “hysteria” (what we know today as sexual desire), but these upper-middle class people have no idea what they are experiencing is sexual.
At first, it’s understandable if certain people might be taken aback by the show’s premise, or merely its title. However, Professor Bryna Wortman ensures the importance, relevance and universality in her choice of show.
“Even though it’s a comedy set in 1883, it is written by a contemporary woman playwright, and she is writing about the importance of true intimacy, and not just from a sexual perspective,” said Wortman, who is the head of the acting and directing at URI. “A true relationship is not one pinned on the rules of a period of time, but it has to do with the human heart, and two people that can be brave enough to be truly open to one another.”
To Professor Wortman, “In The Next Room” is about dealing with repression and bringing people to be more open with their lives. She stresses that the show is much more than its eye-catching and potentially off-putting title, saying there is nothing obscene about it, and that it’s all about human nature. In regards to how she thinks the audience will respond to the show, she says that people will always surprise you with their reactions.
“The topics are done with humor and taste, and we’re hoping for empathy and compassion,” she said.
Professor Wortman has also assembled an incredibly talented and capable company for the year’s inaugural show. “In The Next Room” stars Belamy Brophy-Baermann as Dr. Givings, Diego Guevara as Leo Irving, Katherine Riley as Mrs. Daldry, Christine Dickinson as Mrs. Givings, Christopher Morris as Mr. Daldry, Daraja Hinds as Elizabeth and Celine Montaudy as Annie.
The show runs Oct. 15-18 and Oct. 22-25, with 3 p.m. matinees on the 18th and 25th, at the Robert E. Will Theatre in the URI Fine Arts Center. Following the Oct. 18 performance, there will be a free post-performance panel discussion co-hosted by URI Theatre and the URI Honors Colloquium. Tickets are $12 for students, $15 for faculty and staff and $20 for the general public.
In this article published in the Oct. 1 Cigar the Cigar erroneously said that vibrators were used in the theatre department’s upcoming production of ‘In The Next Room’ to help the patient experience hysteria. Â The vibrators were in fact used to help rid patents of what was called hysteria in the victorian era. Â The play is about dealing with “emotional repression which includes, but is not only sexual,” according to the director Bryna Wortman. Â