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In the introduction to her translation of “Three Sisters,” Sarah Ruhl mentions a Russian style of acting that divides speech into various ‘melodies.’ While the view that Chekhov is a ‘musical’ writer is not new, I am constantly surprised at how the play uses the musical idea of theme and variation. The theme of ‘the desire for work’ is presented in many variations, and the counter theme ‘the need for rest’ is also presented in different variations. The way each character uses a theme gives them shape and depth. The result is an incredibly finely wrought web of contrasting and complimentary scenes, each adding to the audience’s sense of the dramatic whole.

This structure- where the overall effect of the piece is created by the interplay of many different voices (there is no ‘protagonist’ in the traditional sense)- makes “Three Sisters” a great play for student actors. Everyone is necessary for the piece to come together; every ‘melody’ needs to be heard, sometimes as lead voice, sometimes as counter point, but always a part of the harmonic whole. As well, each character must be deeply individual, constantly present, and attentively alive.

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Our next production is Sarah Ruhl’s play “In The Next Room” or “The Vibrator Play”. It deals charmingly, tastefully and very humorously with the medical treatment of “hysteria” in the Victorian era. Hysteria was seen to be a build of “excess pressure on the womb” causing various physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms could be relieved by strategically applying an electrical vibrating device until the woman experienced a “paroxysm” and the hysterical symptoms were cured- at least until the next scheduled treatment!

The play follows the story of Dr. Givings and his wife. Dr. Givings runs a treatment centre devoted to treating any number of hysterical symptoms. Thanks to his magnificent collection of vibrating devices, things go swimmingly for the young doctor until his wife decides that she wants to try the treatment for herself.

“In The Next Room” is a sweet and thoughtful comedy about love, science and the struggle to communicate. And vibrators.

A friendly warning: The play deals frankly with sexual topics. Viewer discretion is advised.

Dates: April 2nd to 5th 8:00PM

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