How I Learned To Drive Wins Pulitzer

News   How I Learned To Drive Wins Pulitzer
Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive, the story of a young woman's relationship with an uncle who sexually abuses her, was named winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama April 14.
Paula Vogel
Paula Vogel Photo by Photo by Anne Sterling

Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive, the story of a young woman's relationship with an uncle who sexually abuses her, was named winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama April 14.

How I Learned To Drive opened at the Vineyard Theatre Off-Broadway in 1997 and transferred to the Century Theatre. Ironically, the production posted a closing notice for April 19 just this week. Production spokesman Sam Rudy confirmed (April 15) that the closing notice will not be rescinded, even in light of the Pulitzer news.

Vogel, who gets $5000 with the award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 1992 for her The Baltimore Waltz. How I Learned To Drive won a 1997 Obie Award for playwriting.

Vogel's latest play, The Mineola Twins, was produced at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska and is being considered by Roundabout Theatre Company for a Broadway production in the 1998-99 season. It would be Vogel's Broadway debut.

Vogel also is author of Desdemona, Hot and Throbbing, And Baby Makes Seven and The Oldest Profession. She has headed the MFA playwriting program at Brown University since 1985. Here is her "Who's Who" listing from the Drive Playbill: "Paula Vogel's plays have been performed at theatres such as the Lortel Theatre and Circle Repertory in New York, the American Repertory Theatre, the Goodman, the Magic Theatre, Center Stage and Alley Theatre as well as throughout Canada, England, Brazil and Spain. The Baltimore Waltz won the Obie for Best Play in 1992 and her anthology, The Baltimore Waltz and Other Plays, has been published by TCG. Other plays include Hot and Throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, and The Oldest Profession. Other awards include the AT&T New Plays Award, the Fund for New American Plays, the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center Fellowship, several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and the McKnight Fellowship. She is a member of New Dramatists. Her new play, The Mineola Twins was in production at Trinity Repertory, February 28-March 23, in Providence, RI. She is currently developing her screenplay, The Oldest Profession, with Fred Berner, Joanne Zippel and Olympia Dukakis. How I Learned to Drive was made possible by the generous support of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust Senior Residency Award. The author wishes to thank Molly Smith and Perseverance Theatre for their help in the development of this work."

Playbill On-Line has posted two interviews with Vogel in the last year:

* Paula Vogel Gives Some Valuable Driving Lessons

* Paula Vogel: How She Keeps Driving

The How I Learned To Drive website is

Runners-up for the 1998 Drama Pulitzer, as announced by chairman Seymour Topping, were Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg and Freedomland by Amy Freed.

The late George Gershwin, composer of Porgy and Bess, Funny Face, Girl Crazy and other Broadway musicals, was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize April 14 for "distinguished contribution to American music."

The award corrects a historical slight: in 1931, when Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, George, as composer, did not share in the award, though his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, did.

The award comes on the centenary of George Gershwin's birth; he died in 1937.

See how Playbill On-Line readers voted on who should win. in U.S. Theatre News.

The Pulitzer Prize has been offered annually since 1917 for a "distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life."

Here is a complete list of plays that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama:

1997-98: "How I Learned To Drive" by Paula Vogel
1996-97: No award
1995-96: "Rent" by Jonathan Larson
1994-95: "The Young Man From Atlanta" by Horton Foote
1993-94: "Three Tall Women" by Edward Albee
1992-93: "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches," by Tony Kushner
1991-92: "The Kentucky Cycle," by Robert Schenkkan
1990-91: "Lost in Yonkers," by Neil Simon
1989-90: "The Piano Lesson," by August Wilson
1988-89: "The Heidi Chronicles," by Wendy Wasserstein
1987-88: "Driving Miss Daisy," by Alfred Uhry
1986-87: "Fences," by August Wilson
1985-86: No award
1984-85: "Sunday in the Park With George," by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim
1983-84: "Glengarry Glen Ross," by David Mamet
1982-83: "'night, Mother," by Marsha Norman
1981-82: "A Soldier's Play," by Charles Fuller
1980-81: "Crimes of the Heart," by Beth Henley
1979-80: "Talley's Folly," by Lanford Wilson
1978-79: "Buried Child," by Sam Shepard
1977-78: "The Gin Game," by D.L. Coburn
1976-77: "The Shadow Box," by Michael Cristofer
1975-76: "A Chorus Line," by Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban
1974-75: "Seascape," by Edward Albee
1973-74: No award
1972-73: "That Championship Season," by Jason Miller
1971-72: No award
1970-71: "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," by Paul Zindel
1969-70: "No Place To Be Somebody," by Charles Gordone
1968-69: "The Great White Hope," by Howard Sackler
1967-68: No award
1966-67: "A Delicate Balance," by Edward Albee
1965-66: No award
1964-65: "The Subject Was Roses," by Frank D. Gilroy
1963-64: No award
1962-63: No award
1961-62: "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," by Abe Burrows, Willie Gilbert, Jack Weinstock and Frank Loesser
1960-61: "All the Way Home," by Tad Mosel
1959-60: "Fiorello!," by Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock
1958-59: "J.B.," by Archibald MacLeish
1957-58: "Look Homeward," Angel, by Ketti Frings
1956-57: "Long Day's Journey Into Night," by Eugene O'Neill
1955-56: "The Diary of Anne Frank," by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
1954-55: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," by Tennessee Williams
1953-54: "The Teahouse of the August Moon," by John Patrick
1952-53: "Picnic," by William Inge
1951-52: "The Shrike," by Joseph Kramm
1950-51: No award
1949-50: "South Pacific," by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
1948-49: "Death of a Salesman," by Arthur Miller
1947-48: "A Streetcar Named Desire," by Tennessee Williams
1946-47: No award
1945-46: "State of the Union," by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
1944-45: "Harvey," by Mary Chase
1943-44: No award
1942-43: "The Skin of Our Teeth," by Thornton Wilder
1941-42: No award
1940-41: "There Shall Be No Night," by Robert E. Sherwood
1939-40: "The Time of Your Life," by William Saroyan
1938-39: "Abe Lincoln in Illinois," by Robert E. Sherwood
1937-38: "Our Town," by Thornton Wilder
1936-37: "You Can't Take It With You," by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
1935-36: "Idiot's Delight," by Robert E. Sherwood
1934-35: "The Old Maid," by Zoe Akins
1933-34: "Men in White," by Sidney Kingsley
1932-33: "Both Your Houses," by Maxwell Anderson
1931-32: "Of Thee I Sing," by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, Ira and George Gershwin
1930-31: "Alison's House," by Susan Glaspell
1929-30: "The Green Pastures," by Marc Connelly
1928-29: "Street Scene," by Elmer Rice
1927-28: "Strange Interlude," by Eugene O'Neill
1926-27: "In Abraham's Bosom," by Paul Green
1925-26: "Craig's Wife," by George Kelly
1924-25: "They Knew What They Wanted," by Sidney Howard
1923-24: "Hell-Bent fer Heaven," by Hatcher Hughes
1922-23: "Icebound," by Owen Davis
1921-22: "Anna Christie," by Eugene O'Neill
1920-21: "Miss Lulu Bett," by Zona Gale
1919-20: "Beyond the Horizon," by Eugene O'Neill
1918-19: No award
1917-18: "Why Marry?," by Jesse Lynch Williams
1916-17: No award

-- By Robert Viagas

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