Performing Secrecy in Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive”

Authors

  • Réka M. Cristian

Keywords:

performance, confession, identity

Abstract

Paula Vogel’s 1997 play charts a girl’s journey reflecting the edges of nascent identity and draws her profile by gradually unveiling a secret kept for years in silence; it delineates
several delicate moments when the ambivalent feelings of participating characters border on
problematic behavioural patterns resulting in the unmasked identity profile of the protagonist
nicknamed Li’l Bit. Haunted by the living edge of the past and situated in an indeterminate present, the play reconstructs, in cinematic flashbacks, the metaphor of the driving lessons as stages of Li’l Bit’s sexual maturation and highlights her progressive awakening through the presence and subsequent absence of her hebephilic Uncle Peck. I will analyze, with the theoretical help of Enikő Bollobás’s theories of performing the subject, various types of real and symbolic transgressions and will highlight the function of several stage objects and settings, as well as the protagonist’s relation with certain realities these suggest in constructing the thespian space of confession.

References

BIGSBY, C.W.E., 2004. Modern American Drama: 1945-2000, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

BOLLOBÁS, ENIKŐ, 2010. They Aren’t Untill I Call Them. Performing the Subject in American Literature, Frankfurt am Main-berlin-Bruxelles-New York-Oxfords-Wien: Peter Lang.

CRISTIAN, RÉKA M., 2006. “From Delicate Presence to Absence. The Child in Edward Albee’s Alternating Families”, in AMERICANA e-Journal of American Studies in Hungary. Vol. 2. Nr. 2., Fall. Web: http://americanaejournal.hu/vol2

no2/cristian-essay. Accessed: January 6, 2016.

FARNSWORTH, ELIZABETH, 1998. PBS interview with Paula Vogel, April 16, 1998. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/jan-june98/play_4-16.html. Accessed: September 22, 2015.

FISHER FISHKIN, SHELLEY, 2005. “Crossroads of Cultures: The Transnational Turn in American Studies―Presidential Address to the American Studies Association November 12, 2004.” In American Quarterly 57. 1 (March): 17-57.

HARRIS SMITH, SUSAN, 2006. American Drama. The Bastard Art. Cambridge: Cambridge Univeresity Press.

PELLEGRINI, ANN, 2005. “Repercussions and Remainders in the Plays of Paula Vogel: An Essay in Five Moments.” In Twentieth-Century American Drama. Blackwell: Ed. David Krassner. Malden, MA, 473-485.

SHERMAN, HOWARD, 2004. Signature Theatre Company, Playwrights in Residence: Interview with Paula Vogel on November 26, 2004. Available at: http://www.americantheatrewing.org/downstagecenter/detail/paula_vogel.

[Accessed: October 1, 2006].

VOGEL, PAULA, 1998. How I Learned to Drive. New York: Dramatists Play Service.

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Published

2020-10-14

How to Cite

Cristian, R. M. (2020) “Performing Secrecy in Paula Vogel’s ‘How I Learned to Drive’”, Symbolon, 16(2(29), pp. 112–118. Available at: http://uartpress.ro/journals/index.php/symbolon/article/view/177 (Accessed: 19 July 2024).

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Articles