Giannina Ocampo is in Rep's comedy 'In the Next room (or The Vibrator Play)'

March 18, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Giannina Ocampo and Joshua Spafford.
Photos by JC Inocian

During the 1880s, Jose Rizal was studying to be doctor in Europe. Meanwhile, in the USA, doctors were using vibrators to treat women for hysteria (trivia: the word is derived from the Greek word for uterus, hystera).

Repertory Philippines' next play, Sarah Ruhl's comedy "In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)," touches on this (touchy) subject matter.

Giannina Ocampo plays Catherine Givings, who is intrigued by the medical technology her doctor husband uses to treat anxious women and men.

Other women characters in the play are portrayed by Tami Monsod, Caisa Borromeo and Cara Barredo. Joshua Spafford, Hans Eckstein and Jef Flores round out the cast directed by Chris Millado, who will also direct Rep's year-ender musical "Hair."


Ocampo's excited to breathe life into her character. "Catherine's a woman on the verge of finding herself and discovering what's truly important to her. Her candor and innocence are so infectious and pure that you just begin to root for her and her relationships."

She adds, "Catherine has an insatiable curiosity for life and love. She's also unafraid to speak her mind and challenge norms. For women to speak up so candidly during that time was quite ludicrous."

To prepare for the role, she's been reading books and watching films set in the 1880s. "I want to get into that headspace so I can understand the setting better."

Her reading list includes titles that inspired Ruhl to write this play: "The Technology of Orgasm" by Rachel Maines and "Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages" by Phyllis Rose.

Devices and de-stressing

While the characters in this play rely on a medical device for anxiety relief, Ocampo herself is not a gadget-junkie.

Giannina Ocampo and Joshua Spafford

"There really aren't any devices that I can't live without," she says. "But it's much easier when I do have my cellphone, to keep in touch with people, to listen to music, to read online and because, well, it's a necessity these days. And my laptop, to do work and to browse the net."

As for stress, it was actually after she got burned out in her corporate job that she shifted to acting. Since debuting with Rep's Children Theater, she's gone on to act for Red Turnip Theater ("Time Stand Still"), Philippine Educational Theater Association ("3 Stars & A Sun"), and Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group ("Jersey Boys"), among others.

These days, her go-to solution for relaxation is traveling. "I travel a lot. I work hard to travel, actually. I go to the beach as often as I can. The sea, sand and waves all relaxes me and just calms my soul."

When work keeps her in the city, there are still other options. "I run and do barre3 (an exercise regimen that incorporate ballet barre, pilates and yoga). I spend time with my husband, my family and friends. Through all of that, there's always good music, good food and good conversation. Those are the three essentials."

The show has set design by Mio Infante, costume design by Bonsai Cielo and lighting design by Katsch Catoy.

"In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)" runs Mar. 24-Apr. 23 at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 Mall, Makati. Tickets: Details: link: