Press Releases

10.11 In the Next Room, or the vibrator play

The Wilma Theater transforms its stage for Sarah Ruhl’s “Blush-Inducing”
In the Next Room, or the vibrator play – Directed by Blanka Zizka
March 2 to April 3, 2011

PHILADELPHIA – The Wilma Theater will continue its 2010 – 2011 Season with the 2010 Tony®-nominated In the Next Room, or the vibrator play by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Blanka Zizka. For the first time in its 15 years on the Avenue of the Arts, the Wilma has transformed the theater to incorporate ‘salon-style seating’ on both sides of the performance space. This unprecedented physical makeover will allow audiences to observe the intimate relationships in the play, the third production of a play by Sarah Ruhl produced by the Wilma. In the Next Room, or the vibrator play begins previews on Wednesday March 2, 2011; opens on Wednesday, March 9, 2011; and closes on Sunday, April 3, 2011.

Described by The Washington Post as “spirited, funny, and, yes, blush inducing,” In the Next Room, or the vibrator play takes us to the dawn of electricity where Mr. Thomas Edison has become a personal hero of Dr. Givings. He begins harnessing this newfound power to treat hysterical patients at his home with an experimental electric apparatus, but as the peculiar buzzing sounds from his office grow louder, Mrs. Givings’ curiosity gets the best of her, exposing cracks in the very foundation of their marriage.

The new arrangement of the Wilma’s stage and auditorium, designed by Alexis Distler, gives audience members an up-close view of the interior of Dr. Givings’ New York Victorian home, enhancing the narratives of the characters throughout the play.

“When I was working on Sarah's play I found a well of very complex and deep emotions that can be expressed only delicately and quietly,” Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka explains. “I want to bring the audience into an intimate closeness to the characters and have a sense of peeking into the house.”

In the Next Room, or the vibrator play is the third production of a play by Sarah Ruhl on the Wilma’s stage. The Wilma Theater introduced an up-and-coming Sarah Ruhl to Philadelphia audiences with her award-winning The Clean House in 2005, and in 2008, The Wilma Theater produced Eurydice with original compositions by Toby Twinning who garnered a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Original Music.

Blanka Zizka comments, “I like how Sarah in her unobtrusive way makes her play timely. Under her mischievous humor and all the antics with vibrators she asks a pertinent question: can we heal pain with gadgets, and can they bring instantaneous happiness at a push of a button?”

Sarah Ruhl studied under Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel at Brown University, and did graduate work at Pembroke College at Oxford University. Her play The Clean House won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2004 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005. Other plays by Sarah Ruhl include Eurydice, Passion Play, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Orlando, and Demeter in the City. Her play In the Next Room, or the vibrator play marked her Broadway debut and was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as a nominee for the 2010 Tony® Award for Best Play, Best Performance by a Featured Actress, and Best Costume Design. Sarah was also a recent winner of the MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant and listed in Oprah Winfrey’s 2010 Power List. In March/April 2011, Sarah’s play Stage Kiss will make its world-premiere at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

Join us for an exclusive conversation with In the Next Room, or the vibrator play playwright Sarah Ruhl, plus her mentor, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) on Sunday, March 20, 2011, following the matinee performance.

About the Director
Blanka Zizka has been the Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. Her most recent production at the Wilma was Macbeth, the theater’s first-ever Shakespeare production. Blanka also directed the World Premiere production of Yussef El Guindi’s Language Rooms; her productions of Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched and Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll garnered 17 Barrymore nominations in 2009. She recently directed Leoš Janáček’s opera Kát’a Kabanová for the Academy of Vocal Arts, as well as Ariel Dorfman’s The Other Side, starring Rosemary Harris and John Cullum at Manhattan Theatre Club. At the Wilma, her credits include the U.S. Premiere of Linda Griffiths’s Age of Arousal, Althol Fugard’s Coming Home and My Children! My Africa!, Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife, the World Premiere of Raw Boys by Dael Orlandersmith, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis (Barrymore Winner, Best Overall Production and Best Director), the World Premiere of Embarrassments by Laurence Klavan and Polly Pen, and the Philadelphia Premieres of Lillian Groag's The Magic Fire and Chay Yew's Red. In 2002 she directed the World Premiere of Dael Orlandersmith’s Yellowman at Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre Center, Long Wharf Theatre, ACT in Seattle, and at The Wilma Theater. She was awarded the first Barrymore Award for Best Direction of a Play for Jim Cartwright’s Road.

About the Cast and Design Team
The cast includes Opal Alladin as Elizabeth, Krista Apple as Annie, Kate Czajkowski as Sabrina Daldry, Mairin Lee as Catherine Givings, Luigi Sottile as Leo Irving, John C. Vennema as Mr. Daldry, and Jeremiah Wiggins as Dr. Givings.

The set is designed by Alexis Distler, costumes are designed by Oana Botez-Ban, lighting is designed by Thom Weaver, and sound is designed by Christopher Colucci who will compose original music inspired by the poems of Emily Dickinson.

Special Events
A number of special, behind-the-scenes Onstage Conversations will accompany the production and provide audiences with the opportunity to engage with the artistic staff of the Wilma.

Onstage Conversation
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Stay after the performance to discuss the play with a member of the Wilma's artistic staff.

Onstage Conversation
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Stay after the performance to discuss the play with the cast.

Young Friends Evening
Friday, March 18, 2011
Complimentary pre-show reception for audience members age 35 and under.

Exclusive Conversation with playwrights Sarah Ruhl and Paula Vogel
Sunday, March 20, 2011 (following the matinee performance)

Onstage Conversation
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Stay after the matinee performance to discuss the play with a member of the Wilma's artistic staff in the lobby with complimentary coffee.

Tria Pre-Show Wine Tasting
Friday, April 1, 2011
Join us for a complimentary, pre-show wine tasting in our lobby from 7 – 8pm sponsored by Tria.

Tickets range from $36 to $65, and are available at the Wilma's Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, visiting, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. Discounted ticket options are available for students, groups, or anyone in their 20s. Information on discounts is available at

The Wilma Theater exists to present theater as an art form, engaging artists and audiences in an adventure of aesthetic philosophical reflection of the complexities of contemporary life. We accomplish our mission by producing thoughtful, well-crafted, productions of intelligent, daring plays that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and production styles.

The Arts Consulting Group and the National Endowment for the Arts are Production Sponsors for In the Next Room, or the vibrator play. David and Linda Glickstein are the Honorary Producers. The Doubletree Hotel, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and The Sporting Club at The Bellevue are the Season Sponsors for The Wilma Theater’s 2010 – 2011 Season.