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


  • Réka M. Cristian


performance, confession, identity


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.


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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: (Accessed: 19 July 2024).