Playwright Paula Vogel, whose How I Learned To Drive won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, will serve as playwright-in-residence at Arena Stage, thanks to her appointment to the post by incoming artistic director Molly D. Smith.
Smith headed up Alaska's Perseverance Thatre, which served as a second home for Vogel as she developed such plays as The Baltimore Waltz, The Oldest Profession and Desdemona. Smith will direct How I Learned To Drive to close Arena's 1998-99 season. Said Vogel, "I am eager to rediscover Washington, a dynamic community which has always been close to my heart."
Also coming on board to Arena Stage will be Steve Samuels, former senior editor of Theatre Communications Group and recent senior editor of TCG's American Theatre magazine. Samuels has also acted with and served as general manager of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, originally founded by Charles Ludlam.
After 15 months and 450 performances, How I Learned To Drive, ended its acclaimed Off-Broadway run Apr. 19. The show first opened at the Vineyard Theatre Feb. 26, 1997 and then moved to the Century Theatre across the street, May 6. Since then, Drive has nabbed Best Play awards from the NY Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel (1997) and Village Voice Obies. Apr. 14, the play was awarded the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, beating out the finalists Freedomland and Three Days of Rain for the $5,000 award.
Vogel's latest play, The Mineola Twins, was produced at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska and will be produced by Roundabout Theatre Company in the 1998-99 season.
Here is Vogel's "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, Feb. 28-Mar. 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."
-- By David Lefkowitz