Arts & Humanities Society & Culture

‘In the Next Room’ sets the University Theatre abuzz

University Theatre - In the Next Room - Hernandez and Pulaski-h.action
UGA students Natalia Hernandez

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia University Theatre will present “In The Next Room,” Sara Ruhl’s Tony-nominated comedy about marriage, intimacy and electricity, in the Cellar Theatre of the Fine Arts Building Sept. 20-21 and 23-28 at 8 p.m. with a matinee performance Sept 30 at 2:30 p.m.

“Things that seem impossibly strange in the following play are all true,” Ruhl said. “Things that seem commonplace are all my own invention.”

Set in the 1880s when electricity was first making its way into the home, “In the Next Room” explores the medical practice of treating hysteria among women (and some men) by inducing “paroxysms,” known today as orgasms. The play revolves around Dr. Givings’ care of his frustrated patients in his home-based clinic and the impact of that treatment on his own passionless marriage.

“At the dawn of electricity, doctors really did use vibrators in medical settings to induce orgasms in women suffering from hysteria,” said Kristin Kundert-Gibbs, the play’s director and an associate professor in the department of theatre and film studies. “As for its effectiveness, well, if you were suffering from anxiety or depression and you had twice daily orgasms, would you feel better?”

After its premiere in February 2009, the play made its Broadway debut at the Lincoln Center later that year. Three Tony Award nominations followed in 2010.

The play chronicles, with humor and compassion, a revolution in Victorian attitudes about sex and marriage. As Dr. Givings declares in the play, “What men do not perceive because their intellect prevents them from seeing would fill a book.”

This play contains mature content and nudity. It is not suitable for children.

The cast is made up of Mark Fowler, a master’s student from Galveston, Texas, studying performance, as Dr. Givings; Paige Pulaski, a senior theatre major from Suwanee, as Mrs. Givings; Jarrad Holbrook, a senior theatre major from Preston, as Mr. Daldry; Natalia Hernandez, a master’s student from New York City, N.Y., studying performance, as Mrs. Daldry; Sellers Webb, a senior theatre major from Atlanta, as Annie; Jasmine Thomas, a sophomore theatre major from Lilburn, as Elizabeth; and Malcolm Campbell-Taylor, a senior theatre major from Atlanta, as Leo.

Tickets are $16 for general admission and $12 for students and can be purchased at, 706/542-4400, the Performing Arts Center box office or at the door before the show.

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