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in the next room,
or the vibrator play

By Sarah Ruhl

The Vibrator Play explores how purity culture has affected and continues to affect women's perception of their sexuality, relationships, bodies, and self worth through the historical lens of the Victorian Era. At the beginning of the play, the women of the play and their bodies are the focus of the story without having agency to control it. The way that women and their sexuality is framed is a kind of clinical voyeurism. The set design aims to heighten this voyeuristic perspective. There is a naked vulnerability to the openness of the set and the choice to make it tennis court style. We aimed to recreate the feeling of an operating theatre; the patient exposed on the table while an audience watches. The two rooms are representative of the dichotomies represented in the story: head vs. heart, domestic vs. clinical, intellectual vs. emotional. The warmth and familiarity of the sitting room is in such stark contrast to the cold, alienating environment of the doctor's office. All the while, the entire set maintains the vulnerability inherent in its stage configuration. Mr. and Mrs. Givings are the only characters able to escape this feeling of exposure and nakedness. When they embrace true vulnerability and intimacy in the garden in the final scene, a platform shrouded in sheer fabric is revealed upstage of the main platform, breaking the tennis court arrangement. This physical and visual distance between the characters and the audience allows for the emotional breakthrough that Mrs. Givings has been yearning for.

Director: Sarah Lacy Hamilton, Scenic: Carrie Ferrelli, Costumes: Erin Reed, Lighting: Liv Jin, Sound: Jaleria Rivera

WHAT

Scenic Design

WHERE

River and Rail Theatre

WHEN

February 2022