A Chat with Actors’ ‘In the Next Room’ Director Laura Gordon

“…the women in this play […] know that something is missing from their lives, and they’re not even sure what it is, but they decide to search for answers and meaning.”

An appropriately provocative poster from Matt Dobson, of Louisville's 'The Paper'.

For those who have seen director David Cronenberg’s 2011 film ‘A Dangerous Method’, which deals with the early breakthroughs of Doctors Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, it’s clear that the sexual side of human nature is never far behind the creative, and further true perhaps, that it’s specifically through such explorations of desire and intimacy that we come to know more about ourselves and each other.  Premiering this week at Actors Theatre of Louisville, ‘In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)’ is the 2010 Tony Award-nominated play from Sarah Ruhl set close to the 19th century advent of electricity, and more specifically, within the household of a doctor who is using a miraculous new treatment for his female patients suffering from bouts of “hysteria”.

LouisvilleKY.com was very pleased to have the opportunity to grab a few comments from director Laura Gordon in front of her latest premiere.

LouKY: How has the cast and crew reacted to Ruhl’s material?

Gordon: Most of us involved in the production have had some experience working on plays by Sarah Ruhl, and we continue to be delighted and enthralled by her writing. She has managed to create marvelous, fully realized characters who feel authentic to the time period in which the play is set, the 1880’s, and yet the material is remarkably fresh, modern and current.

LouKY: What have been the biggest challenges involved in the production and have their been any pleasant surprises?

Gordon: A play like this comes with its own unique set of challenges. Let’s face it, we had to spend a lot of time talking about vibrators… how they work, what they do, how they make you feel. It’s intimate, interesting and delicate subject matter to rehearse. And it has been wildly amusing. I guess that was a very welcome surprise… just how much we laughed in rehearsal.

LouKY: What’s sorts of comments does ‘In the Next Room’ have to offer about sexuality and intimacy, and how do you think it will be received by the audience? 

Gordon: I think this play a great deal to say about intimacy. About discovery. About self-awareness. One of the things I find so moving about the women in this play is that they know that something is missing from their lives, and they’re not even sure what it is, but they decide to search for answers and meaning. It’s marvelous that Sarah Ruhl set this play at, “the dawn of electricity,” at a time when light bulbs are coming on, when the world is changing so rapidly. I think that audiences will find this play provocative, hilarious, poignant, beautiful, romantic, invigorating and a rollicking good time. The themes of this play come into focus so well, I think, because we’re seeing them in the context of the very proper Victorian era.

‘In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)’ runs through February 18th in the Pamela Brown Auditorium. More information, including tickets, available via Actors’s website.

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Chris Ritter <<<< twitter.com/CT_Smash <<<< ctsmash@gmail.com