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—www.lctreview.org. © 2009 Lincoln Center Theater, a not-for-profit organization. All rights reserved. the vibrator play The Source of Happiness By Phyllis Rose 4 Sex & Serendipity By Rachel Maines 8 Focusing on the Orgasm By Annie Sprinkle 10 Girl Talk: An Interview with Peggy Orenstein 12 Poem 211 By Emily Dickinson 16 11 Things You Never Knew About Wet-Nursing By Erica Eisdorfer 17 Poem 315 By Emily Dickinson 19 Hysteria, Mysteria By Helen Horowitz 21 Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” By Charlotte Perkins Gilman 23 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 or 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. Orgasm 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.
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