Learned To Drive
by Paula Vogel
January 14 - February 5, 2000
Directed by Rhonda Clark
A wildly funny, surprising and devastating tale of survival as seen through the
lens of a troubling relationship between an young girl and an older man. HOW I
LEARNED TO DRIVE is the Pulitzer Prize winning story of a woman who learns the
rules of the road and life from behind the wheel.
Li'l Bit and Uncle Peck played by Linda
Coldwell and Steve Vann
The play unfolds like a family
album that hold's a woman's memories (and family secrets) of growing up in the
Sixties in rural Maryland. We see her as a fatherless girl, nicknamed Li'l Bit
by her family, who gets more than she bargains for when her Uncle Peck gives her
As the scenes shift back and forth in time, we see how Uncle
Peck's obsessive love for her grows over the years. Ever
the courtly gentleman, he uses tenderness and authority to manipulate his niece.
As Li'l Bit, CST newcomer
Linda Coldwell must slip from age 35 to 11, and several ages in between, in the
blink of an eye. Steve Vann (last seen onstage in the critically acclaimed
CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FATHER) plays the doting uncle.
Playwright Paula Vogel uses a
"Greek Chorus" of three people who play multiple characters in Li'l
Bit's life story, and these characters bring much of the humor to the play.
Making their CST debuts are Juliann Kershen, Greg Burns, and Katy Christie.
Ms. Vogel is head of the
well-respected playwriting program at Brown University and grew up in suburban
Maryland. Because of the play's setting and depiction of family secrets, she has
often been asked if HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE is autobiographical. Although it is
not, she says, "Taboo subjects always interest me." Vladimir Nabokov's
Lolita is her favorite book that she has read over and over again, and
she says, "The eroticizing of children is so prevalent in the culture yet
so seldom acknowledged."
Vogel's writing is never
"politically correct," but she did have concerns that women in the
audience who have been sexually abused as youngsters would be put off by her
sympathetic treatment of the abuser. "The play is in fact a love story,
admittedly troubling, between a young girl and her uncle. He gives her the
tools, ironically enough, to protect herself from him. I hope the play is
cathartic for women who've been through this kind of experience, and makes it
possible for them, like Li'l Bit, to move on."