top of page

Lolabrickita Theatre promises empowering collaborative mandate starting with their debut production, In the Next Room


By Ezekiel McAdams

June 6 2024


  Saskatoon has a brand new theatre company, Lolabrickita Theatre, that is making a strong impression starting with their inaugural production, In the Next Room.


  In the Next Room was written by playwright, Sarah Ruhl in 2009 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and nominated for three Tony awards.


  The play could be described as a dramedy and focuses on the early history of the vibrator and tackles and discusses various themes such as the Victorian ignorance of sexual desire, motherhood, breastfeeding and jealousy.


  The play is directed by Lolabrickita founder, Laura Negraeff and stars Savanah Gallant, Jordie Richardson, Peace Akintade, Rachel McLaughlin, Kevin Moxley, Ciera Vadnais and Matthew Wiwchar.


The production runs from June 12-16 2024 at Persephones Backstage theatre

Laura Negraeff Studio D Photography.jpg

  The decision to start her own company, came from advice she received at an audition workshop.  


  “Honestly, I think it was last summer, in January of last year. There was an audition workshop that was held by 25th St Theatre and Persephone Theatre and it was taught by their artistic directors. One of their pieces of advice they gave was ‘Don’t wait for the part that you want, create the opportunities for yourself. If you find the show or character that you fall in love with, don’t wait for someone else, do it yourself. ‘And I thought, geez, that didn’t even occur to me.”

  Negraeff started looking at plays and had friends had a play reading club “I was reading a lot on my own, and when I found this script, I was like, that’s the one and the first one I’ll do. I decided instead of being in it, I want to direct it.”


  Negraeff has directed previously with SUM Theatre and Saskatoon Summer Players but this is her first time self producing.

  The company’s namesake is derived from a character from The Flintstones and an in-joke in Negraeff’s family. “There was a character named Lolobrickita, it was spelled differently but this was just my own made my own spelling. Fred really loved her cooking and he would sing these songs of appreciation and would sing these silly songs and it drove her nuts because he was so off tune and terrible, she just quit. ”

Lolabrickita Name Inspiration The Flinstones Wilma the Maid.png

  Named after Lolobrickita, who was a maid, Fred Flintstone hired for his wife, Wilma. She appeared in one episode of The Flintstones from the third season “Wilma the Maid”


  Negraeff’s father gave her the nickname “Lola” and it stuck. “I think because my name is similar, Laura and Lola, my dad always called me Lola and my parents would joke and always sing the song because I was such a performer and it was an inside joke in our family. He was the Fred and I was the Lola.”


  The character was based on Gina Lollobrigida, an Italian actress, model and photojournalist. She was considered a sex symbol of her time and had several monikers such as “the Mona Lisa of the 20th Century”  as well as given the title of “the most beautiful woman of the world” due to an alternate title of one of her films, an Italian film, Beautiful but Dangerous from 1955.

In The Next Room Sarah Ruhl.jpg

  When it came to choosing the first production, Negraeff was instantly taken by Ruhl’s script. “The play itself is such a beautiful story, there are so many rich layers. There’s a lot that isn’t written explicitly on the page so you get a chance to explore. So for example, one of the characters, she has a same love story, yet we’re not clear how she identifies herself. Those are some of things we get to play with. There’s so much room for interpretation and exploration”

  Ruhl was unavailable for an interview at the time this article was published. The following is a quote she gave to the Lincoln Centre Theatre Blog from September 2009. “For a long time, I used The Vibrator Play as a working title. I was never satisfied with it; it seemed so utilitarian. At some point while working on the play's production earlier this year at Berkeley Rep, I told myself: The Vibrator Play is too facile. The play is not a sex farce about vibrators. It's about wet nurses; it's about the body. It's misleading to say it's purely about the object. So I changed the title to In The Next Room, with or the vibrator play as the subtitle. I know that some people will still refer to the play by its subtitle. Subtitles are very 19th-century; a lot of great novels from that period have them”

In The Next Room (l-r) Jordie Richardson, Matthew Wiwchar, Ciera Vadnais, Rachel McLaughli

  Negraeff described that founding a new company provided a few challenges in finding rehearsal spaces. “We started our rehearsals in our stage manager and photographer, and then found a space in a queer friendly church and then the University had some space. So know we’ve come to the big time. In a short amount of time, we’ve already grown up so much and it will be really exciting once we hit the real stage.”

Jordie Richardson David Stobbe.jpg
In The Next Room Jordie Richardson Stacey Clancy.jpg

  Jordie Richardson who plays Dr. Givings had worked with Negraeff before and had followed the new company’s development has been enjoying the collaborative process that Negraeff instituted.


  “I had this idea going in with playing Dr. Givings, making him more tender, introverted and kinda nerdy. Whereas Laura’s original version was having him being cold and clinical, it was like a wall that my wife has to deal with. Whereas, the way that Savannah who’s playing Mrs. Givings, the way the relationship is now, it’s a miscommunication and not understanding each other.”


  Richardson, has his BFA in Acting as well as completed his undergrad in Toxicology of the University of Saskatchewan. He is also a fight coordinator, stuntman and has been working in the independent film and theatre communities. He elaborated on why this particular production has been a unique experience. “We’ve had a great crew putting it together. We’ve had some detailed discussions about the themes and how to work around them. There’s even some stuff in the original production that was cut in our edition that would add even more layers to it. There’s a racial undertone with the character, Elizabeth, for instance.” Richardson said.

Kevin Moxley _ Photo Provided.jpg
In The Next Room (l-r) Kevin Moxley-Savana Gallant-Peace Akintade Adam Clancy.jpg

  Kevin Moxley, who plays Lee, also highlighted Negaeff’s collaborative approach. “The big thing on this production that has been especially helpful, because in a lot of ways, is a play about intimacy. There’s a physical, emotional and different shades of intimacy. There has to be a lot of trust in the production and working with Peace, there has been a focus on open communication and agreeing to what’s going on in each of the scenes.”

Rachel McLaughlin _ Photo Provided.jpg
In The Next Room (l-r) Rachel McLaughlin, Jordie Richardson, Ciera Vadnais Stacey Clancy.j

  Rachel McLaughlin, who plays the character of Sabrina Daltry agreed with Moxley and stressed of the importance of having an intimacy director. “For me, personally, an example I’ll give, comes with the intimacy direction that we were all working on. You want to make sure everyone in the room is maintaining their own boundaries and feeling safe in the work that they’re doing. This is a really heavy intimacy show and we were given the freedom to offer things and try things when they weren’t working. There’s one scene in particular, where it comes at the end and we’re building up to the climax and we Sabrina and Annie and their relationship form. There’s a lot of little moments and what does that mean? What does that convey?”


  McLaughlin, originally is from Manitoba and fell in love with acting at an early age.  She recently convocated this summer from the University of Saskatchewan with a BFA with honours as well with a minor in History.

Peace Akintade.png
In The Next Room (l-r) Kevin Moxley, Peace Akintade Adam Clancy.jpg
In The Next Room (l-r) Peace Akintade, Kevin Moxley Adam Clancy.jpg

  Peace Akintade is not only the production’s intimacy director but also is part of the cast, playing the character, Elizabeth,


  Akintade is a poet, artist and has completed the second level of intimacy training from an online course. Her first foray as an intimacy director was with Whirlygig Theatre’s debut production, The Maid that ran last fall of 2023.


  It was important to Akintade that there were collaborative spaces, trust and open conversations for not only the actors, director and the crew but also herself when she was rehearsing on a given day. She was grateful that there was a intimacy coordinator when she needed one. She credited Oli Gusselle for helping keep that in place.


 “I’m a researcher at heart. Some things I did to make this play seem to be less overbearing with intimacy. There’s a lot of moaning in this play, I’m pretty sure the moaning is a sixth character in this play. I found people found it challenging to understand what a moan was in a non pornographic point of view. Part of my research was to reshape that thinking of what a moan is.  We talked about going to yoga or a chiropractor, where you get to a point of tension then a release and. sometimes you make sounds with that release. So I did research on that on what moaning could be and did breathing exercizes and techniques, that just by purely breathing you can create that sensation. I also looked at medical procedures and did a lot of research.”


  Negraeff plans for this to only be the beginning when it comes to her new endeavor with the new theatre company. “The reason I want to do this, is because I want to create opportunities for folks like me and had an unconventional path or can’t make being an artist their full time work or people that are just curious.  Why don’t I start a company and build it around the values that are important to me.”


  In the Next Room is running from June 12-16th at Persephones Backstage theatre. Tickets can be bought online here or at the box office.


  “I think the thing that is really important to me about the show, if people are nervous because the subject matter is taboo, I hope people will embrace the story and a sense of curiosity. It’s a really honest view of sexuality and there’s so many parallels on what the characters explore in the 1800s, that we’re still dealing with today. It does it with a lot of humor and quite fun.” Negraeff said.

bottom of page