Vibrators in the Victorian Era? This is Rep’s last comedy

Giannina Ocampo and Joshua Spafford in Repertory Philippines “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)”, directed by Chris Millado and opening March 24 —PHOTO BY JC INOCIAN

In the 1880s, José Rizal was studying to become a doctor in Europe. Meanwhile, in the United States, doctors were using vibrators to treat women with hysteria.

The next piece from Repertory Philippines, Sarah Ruhl’s comedy “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)”, tackles this (sensitive) subject.

Giannina Ocampo plays Catherine Givings, who is intrigued by the medical technology her doctor husband uses to treat anxious women and men.

Other female characters in the play are played by Tami Monsod, Caisa Borromeo and Cara Barredo. Joshua Spafford, Hans Eckstein and Jef Flores round out the cast led by Chris Millado, who will also direct Rep’s end-of-year musical, “Hair.”

Insatiable curiosity

Ocampo is thrilled to bring her character to life.

“Catherine is a woman about to come together and find out what is really important to her. Her straightforwardness and innocence are so infectious and pure that you are just starting to take root for her and her relationships, ”she says.

“Catherine has an insatiable curiosity for life and love. She is also not afraid to speak her mind and challenge the norms. For women to speak out so frankly during this time was pretty ridiculous. “

To prepare for the role, she read books and watched movies set in the 1880s. “I want to get into that state of mind to better understand the setting,” she says.

Her playlist includes titles that inspired Ruhl to write this play: “The Technology of Orgasm” by Rachel Maines and “Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages” by Phyllis Rose.

Appliances and stress reliever

While the characters in this play rely on a medical device for anxiety relief, Ocampo herself isn’t a gadget junkie.

“There really aren’t any devices I couldn’t live without,” she says. “But it’s a lot easier when I have my cell phone, to keep in touch with people, to listen to music, to read online and because, well, it’s a necessity these days. . And my laptop, for working and surfing the net.

As for stress, it was in fact after exhausting herself in her work in a company that she went to the theater. Since her debut with Rep’s Children’s Theater, she has continued to perform for Red Turnip Theater (“Time Stands Still”), Philippine Educational Theater Association (“3 Stars & A Sun”) and Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (“Jersey Boys”) , among others.

Travel is her favorite way to relax these days. “I travel a lot. I work hard to travel, actually. I go to the beach as often as I can. The sea, sand and waves relax me and calm my soul.

When work keeps her in town, there are still other options.

“I run and do barre3 (an exercise program that incorporates the ballet barre, Pilates and yoga). I spend time with my husband, family and friends. Through it all, there is always great music, great food, and great conversation. These are the three essential elements.

Gear switch

Set at a time when electricity had just been discovered, “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” explores a period when “the newly invented electronic vibrator was used to induce orgasms – then called ‘paroxysms’ – for relieve both men and women. of their so-called hysterical tendencies, ”Rep said in a statement.

It is “a comedy that changes speed,” said director Chris Millado in the same release. “A moment it’s about how the vibrator was used to cure hysteria, then it flips over and shows the reality of how women were subjected to some kind of physical and emotional neglect around this time. … Issues of technology, privacy and gender attracted me as something that contemporary audiences could identify with.

The show was designed by Mio Infante, costume design by Bonsai Cielo, and lighting design by John Batalla. -CONTRIBUTED

“In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” by Repertory Philippines runs from March 24 to April 24. 23 at the live theater, greenbelt 1, Makati.
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