‘Vibrator Play’ creates buzz on campus

By KATRINA BOND
@KatBondETC

Mrs. Sabrina Daldry, portrayed by education major Albamar Seguinot, lies on a table, knees apart, while a doctor holds a large electric contraption between her legs. Soon, she begins moaning and writhing as she experiences an orgasm for the first time.

From left, Albamar Seguinot, Giavonna Ramos-Woten and Vincent Perez star in The Harvester Theatre Company’s production of “In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play.”
From left, Albamar Seguinot, Giavonna Ramos-Woten and Vincent Perez star in The Harvester Theatre Company’s production of “In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play.” Photo by David Sanchez. 

“In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” is the Harvester Theatre Company’s spring play, which opens Feb. 24. Written by Sarah Ruhl in 2009, the play is a period piece that focuses on thew discovery of women’s sexuality and the use of newfound electricity in the 1880s.

“When I read the title, I was like, ‘People are overreacting. This is not about vibrators,’ ” Seguinot said. “Then I read it, and I was like, ‘Oh, well, OK, this is the Vibrator Play.’”

Theater major Vincent Perez, who plays Dr. Givings, also did not expect the play to be so direct.

“When I read the script, I was a little bit in shock, “ he said. “I was just like, ‘What did I get myself into?’ ”

“In the Next Room” takes places in the 1880s, when domestic electric power was in its infancy.

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The play focuses on Dr. Givings, who uses electricity to power a vibrator he uses to treat hysteria, a now-discredited disorder diagnosed in women who experienced symptoms of what doctors now recognize as stress, depression and sexual frustration.

The vibrator was supposed to relieve “congestion” in the womb and cause a “paroxysm,” or what is now recognized as a female orgasm, to relieve these symptoms.

“It was a way to treat women who were ‘hysteric,’ ” stage manager and film major Iris Hernandez said. “[Men] didn’t know that [women] needed to be loved by their husbands. Back then, women were supposed to keep the house, have kids and keep their husbands happy.”

Mrs. Daldry suffers from hysteria, and is the first patient to be treated in the play.

“She was lacking love and tenderness and the caring part of marriage,” Seguinot said.

The play explores themes of marriage, such as what makes a good wife and how a marriage can fall apart.

Mrs. Daldry also engages in sexual acts with women.

From left, Monica Lyra, Albamar Seguinot and Vincent Perez star in the Harvester Theatre Company's production of "In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play." Photo by David Sanchez.
From left, Monica Lyra, Albamar Seguinot and Vincent Perez star in the Harvester Theatre Company’s production of “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play.” Photo by David Sanchez.

When the power goes out and Dr. Givings asks his assistant, Annie, to treat Mrs. Daldry “manually.” This causes Mrs. Daldry a lot of confusion, because her husband has never caused her to experience sexual pleasure. Later, Mrs. Daldry shows Mrs. Givings how the vibrator works, and they both experience orgasms together.

Seguinot believes that her character’s sexual discoveries and explorations are still relevant today.

“Women do have orgasms, and we have the liberty and the right to stimulate ourselves,” Seguinot said.

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This is Seguinot’s first venture into theater. Despite the obvious sexual nature of the production, she is not embarrassed by her role.

Hernandez said that although “In the Next Room” can be a little uncomfortable for the audience, it is not graphic.

Michael Morris Jr., a film major who plays Mr. Stephen Daldry, finds some aspects of the play uncomfortable due to his sexual orientation.

“I consider myself asexual,” Morris said. “The idea of sex or orgasms or anything related to that usually makes me uncomfortable. The very first read through, I was like, ‘Why did I sign up for this?’ But I’ve gotten into it.”

Morris finds the over-the-top moaning funny, especially Seguinot’s final orgasm.

Perez hopes that people will see past the lighter themes and understand the larger ones: marriage, feminism and sexuality.

“You’ll laugh, but really pay attention to the message,” Perez said.

Seguinot agrees that there is more to the play than shock value.

“Keep an open mind,” she said. “There’s more to it. Pay attention to what’s really going on and enjoy it.”

The play will premier Feb. 24th at 11:15 a.m. and will be shown Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

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