In The Next Room, or the vibrator play – Night with the Actors

Sydney Theatre Company’s “In the Next Room, or the vibrator play” had its Night with the Actors on February 21 at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

Pamela Rabe, director, is not present but Associate Director, full cast and Andrew Upton (moderating).

On where you can buy the vibrator machine:

Naomi Edwards: You should have seen my Google history. STC has a great props department.

On how to balance such delicate material:

Andrew Upton / Naomi Edwards: Veil of what the material is discussed but not shown. Playwright, Sarah Ruhl actually found the text of the play when researching needlework during the Victorian era. She noticed the ads on the sides of newspapers and then did more research into it.

On rehearsals and if any of the actors dealt with similar material before:

David Roberts: It helps that Mrs. Daldry (Helen Thomson) is my wife in real life.

On length of time (duration) of play:

David Roberts: Play is set over a two week period (November).

On whether was actually playing piano:

Helen Thomson: Fake playing – there is an electrical pianola underneath. Made for amusing times in rehearsal room – thinking my hands were in the right spots and when the pianola came in, I realised they were in the wrong place. (Jacqueline McKenzie demonstrates Helen’s reaction to realising she was playing it wrong)

Jacqueline McKenzie: If only there was a mirror on the piano the audience would see Helen’s facial (horrified) expressions.

On whether the actors got the real treatment of the instrument:

David Roberts: Josh (McConville) is a method actor and wanted the real treatment. In all seriousness, no.

On the era of the play and how to adapt to it (did actors bring naivety to play?):

Marshall Napier: Fortunately most of us are naive.

Jacqueline McKenzie: At times you had to forget about the era the characters were in. For example: an artist falling for an African-American woman during the Victoria era.

On portraying a married couple:

Jacqueline McKenzie: The play is a good portrayal of a married couple trying to weather a rough patch.

On whether the actors all wanted to play Helen’s role (Mrs. Daldry):

Jacqueline McKenzie / Sara Zwangobani: Everyone wanted to play Helen’s role.. but then again she does have to go back to Dick (Mr. Daldry) so maybe not.

On what people would be thinking about the play in the future:

David Roberts: I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately. I love that you can laugh at the past, but you have to ask that’s what people will do in a hundred years time.

Jacqueline McKenzie: It is harder to make a connection to the Victorian era, because of how we are today. Checking phones, emails, internet. But when the connection was finally made, it was beautiful.

Helen Thomson: I don’t think we’re as polite as we were back then and that’s quite disappointing to think about.



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