“Hysterical” hysteria

The UW-Eau Claire theatre department presents ‘In the Next Room’

More stories from John Mattison


Photo by Brian Sheridan

UW- Eau Claire theatre students have been preparing their production of “In the Next Room,” a play about odd treatment methods for hysterical women in the 1800s, for the last month.

Taking place in the 1880s, “In the Next Room” is a production capturing a vast range of experiences of the time including love, relationship struggles and the odd treatment method involving women with hysteria.

Junior stage manager Barry Inman described the play as a love story between husband and wife.

“The play illustrates how husband and wife discover their own bodies,” Inman said. “The story centers on the two finding a better way to connect with each other.”

The play also illuminates the history of hysteria.

Character Doctor Givings, a hysterical disorder specialist, is involved in discovering a unique treatment method to alleviate hysteria.

His wife, Mrs. Givings, is played by senior Laura Schlichting. Being a theater comprehensive major, Schlichting has been involved in every theatre production she could at UW-Eau Claire. Being a student by day and actress by night is a role she loves to take on, she said.

“We have rehearsal Monday through Thursday. Rehearsals can last for up to three hours some nights,” Schlichting said. “On a typical day I go to class then go home to grab a quick dinner. Then it’s right back to the theatre.”

Schlichting and Inman love the theatre department at the university, they said.

“I love everything about our department. My favorite part is how we are a family,” Inman said. “The professors want to connect and be friends with us, which makes everything so much easier and enjoyable.”

“The size of the theatre department is perfect and a sense of community and trust is evident every time I am with the people of the theatre department,” Schlichting said. “Everyone from the directors to dressers are supportive.”

Playing the major role of Mrs. Givings, Schlichting needs to separate herself and Mrs. Givings. On show night, Schlichting likes to go through a meditation segment with other characters, which allows her a deeper connection with her character. Along with meditation, she listens to calming music in order to put her mind at ease, she said.

Like Schlichting, Inman has been a vital piece to every production on campus since his freshman year. Being a stage manager, Inman is responsible for setting up during rehearsal, communicating with all members and running meetings. This play has been a month-long preparation process, he said.

“In the Next Room” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8-12 as well as 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 12-13 in the Kjer Theatre.