Document 171762

School of Fontainebleau, Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of her Sisters in the
Bath, 1594. The Art Archive/Musée du Louvre Paris/Gianni Dagli Orti.
Lincoln Center Theater Review
A publication of Lincoln Center Theater
Fall 2009, Issue Number 51
Alexis Gargagliano, Editor
John Guare, Anne Cattaneo, Executive Editors
Tamar Cohen, Art Direction, Design
David Leopold, Picture Editor
Carol Anderson, Copy Editor
Lincoln Center Theater
André Bishop
Bernard Gersten
Artistic Director Executive Producer
Board of Directors, The Vivian Beaumont Theater, Inc.
John B. Beinecke, Chairman
Linda LeRoy Janklow, Chairman Emeritus
J. Tomilson Hill, President
Daryl Roth, Vice Chairman
Brooke Garber Neidich, Chairman, Executive Committee
Eric M. Mindich, Treasurer
William D. Zabel, Secretary
Kewsong Lee
André Bishop
Memrie M. Lewis
Debra Black
Robert E. Linton
Allison M. Blinken
Ninah Lynne
Mrs. Leonard Block
Phyllis Mailman
John S. Chalsty
Ellen R. Marram
Constance L. Clapp
John Morning
H. Rodgin Cohen
Mrs. Donald Newhouse
Ida Cole
Augustus K. Oliver
Donald G. Drapkin
Mrs. Alton E. Peters
Curtland E. Fields
Elihu Rose
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
John W. Rowe
Bernard Gersten
Howard Sloan
Ephraim Gildor
David F. Solomon
Marlene Hess
Ira J. Statfeld
Ellen Katz
Leonard Tow
Jane Lisman Katz
Tracey Travis
Maria Elena Lagomasino
Robert G. Wilmers
The Rosenthal Family Foundation is the Lincoln Center
Theater Review’s founding and sustaining donor.
Special thanks to the Drue Heinz Trust for supporting
the Lincoln Center Theater Review.
TO SUBSCRIBE to the magazine, please go to the
Lincoln Center Theater Review website—
© 2009 Lincoln Center Theater, a not-for-profit organization. All rights reserved.
the vibrator play
The Source of Happiness
By Phyllis Rose
Sex & Serendipity
By Rachel Maines
Focusing on the Orgasm
By Annie Sprinkle
Girl Talk:
An Interview with Peggy Orenstein
Poem 211
By Emily Dickinson
11 Things You Never Knew About Wet-Nursing
By Erica Eisdorfer
Poem 315
By Emily Dickinson
Hysteria, Mysteria
By Helen Horowitz
Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”
By Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The cover image and the photograph on the opposite page were taken by the celebrated
photographer E.J. Bellocq. The distressed negative is a signature of his work.
E.J. Bellocq, Storyville Portrait, ca. 1912. © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery,
San Francisco.
E.J. Bellocq, Storyville Portrait, ca. 1912. © Lee Friedlander, courtesy
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.
Hon. John V. Lindsay, Founding Chairman
Anna E. Crouse, Ray Larsen, Victor H. Palmieri,
Lowell M. Schulman, John C. Whitehead,
Honorary Trustees
In the Next Room
In the Next Room or the vibrator play, Sarah Ruhl’s Broadway debut, takes on the politics of desire, the
mysteries of human nature, and the confinement of women in a world where there are rules for even
the most intimate parts of a woman’s life—her happiness, her sexual satisfaction, her ability to mother
and to make friends. Set in a spa town in New York at the dawn of the age of electricity, In the Next Room
is based on the actual medical practice of treating “hysterical” women (and the occasional man) with
electric vibrators. When Ruhl was named a MacArthur Fellow, the announcement lauded her particular
talent for “creating vivid and adventurous theatrical works that poignantly juxtapose the mundane aspects
of daily life with mythic themes of love and war.” In this play her crystalline writing, deceptively modest
characters, playful sensibility, and keen observations about society (both Victorian and contemporary)
coalesce in a moving story about women and men discovering freedom from societal strictures and taboos.
In this issue of the Lincoln Center Theater Review, we sought out writers—all women—who could write
about the place of women in society, motherhood, and female sexuality. Ruhl began In the Next Room after
she came across a book called The History of the Orgasm, by Rachel Maines, and here we have Maines’
account of how she learned about the invention of electric vibrators and their initial uses. The performance artist Annie Sprinkle shares her thoughts on the play and the positive power of female orgasm,
and, in this perhaps unusual context we have included Emily Dickinson’s poems of desire. Historian
Phyllis Rose draws us inside the marriages, and bedrooms, of several Victorian couples; the novelist
Erica Eisdorfer writes about the strange yet true attitudes and ideas about wet-nursing; historian Helen
Horowitz traces the roots of hysteria and the treatment that the great writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman
underwent. And we have an essay by Gilman herself on why she wrote the famous story “The Yellow
Wallpaper” (1892), one of the touchstones of women’s literature. Finally, to close the circle, the writer
Peggy Orenstein discusses how young women have changed since the nineteenth century.
Sarah Ruhl challenges us to understand the past and how it resonates with our lives today; she asks
profound questions about the way we live and how the course of history has brought us to our current
moment. In the Next Room has stayed with me since I first read it, taking on greater significance each
time I engage with the play—in this issue’s articles, in conversations with my colleagues at the magazine and the theater, and in my circle of friends when we talk about relationships, about motherhood,
about happiness. I hope the play and this edition of our magazine will resonate just as powerfully with
you. —Alexis Gargagliano
How to Perform an
Most of us never read a stage direction; we
never have to. We don’t see the playwright
write, “Exit.” Instead, the actor simply leaves
the stage. But, as we put the issue together,
we noticed that again and again people were
struck by Sarah Ruhl’s stage directions, which
are elegant and wise. The stage direction alluded to most in the magazine is the one that
precedes Mrs. Daldry’s first paroxysm.
She has a quiet paroxysm.
Now remember that these are the days
before digital pornography.
There is no cliché of how women are
supposed to orgasm,
no idea in their heads of how they are
supposed to sound when they climax.
Mrs. Daldry’s first orgasms could be very quiet,
organic, awkward, primal. Or very
clinical. Or embarrassingly natural.
But whatever it is, it should not be a
cliché, a camp version
of how we expect all women sound
when they orgasm.
It is simply clear that she has had
some kind of release.