The award-winning American playwright, Paula Vogel, best recognized with her play, How I Learned to Drive, began her writing career in the 1970s ("Paula Vogel"). In her admission, her writing is influenced by what impacts her life. One of the inspirations for her plays is her late brother, Carl Vogel. Besides her plays, she is also an active playwright teacher whose students have produced award-winning pieces. As head of Brown University's graduate playwriting program, she endeavoured to establish a nationally- distinguished centre for educational theatre. Paula's contributions, both inside and outside class, are marked with positive contributions, and a strong connection with her family and colleagues. Paula Vogel has lived a very interesting and fulfilling life.
Paula Vogel was born on November 16, 1951 ("Paula Vogel"). Her father, Stephen Vogel, was an advertising executive, while her mother, Phyllis Rita, was a secretary with the United States Postal Service. Stephen was Jewish, while Phyllis was Catholic. The two divorced when Paula was thirteen years old, something that caused Paula to experience "a very painful experience" ("Paula Vogel"). After the divorce, her mother moved her and her brother from one apartment to another. They lived in Washington, DC, and Baltimore. Paula enjoyed relative freedom during her teenage years. At the age of seventeen, she came out as a lesbian. In 2004, she got married to Anne Fausto-Sterling, a fellow Brown University professor and author ("Paula Vogel"). Paula had two brothers, Carl and Mark. Carl died of AIDS in 1988 and is a great inspiration to her literary activism against HIV/AIDS and advocacy for people affected by the disease ("Paula Vogel"). Carl and Paula were close, with the brother serving as protector to the sister. He was also instrumental in Paula's academic journey. The Carl Vogel Center exists in memory of her brother and acts as a service centre for people living with HIV.
Paula Vogel began her college education at Bryn Mawr College through a scholarship award in 1969 ("Paula Vogel"). She spent two years at the institution after her professors reduced her stay on the grounds that her focus in dramatic literature was below par. Paula transferred to the Catholic University of America where she graduated with a BA in 1974 ("Paula Vogel"). Next, she proceeded to Cornell University for her graduate studies. While at the university, she scored enough credits that would guarantee her a PhD. However, she departed the institution in 1977 with only an A.B.D after failing to submit her thesis. Once she left Cornell, she began her career as a lecturer ("Paula Vogel").
In 1989, Paula joined Cornell's Women's Studies and Theater Arts program ("Paula Vogel"). In the same year, the National Endowment for the Arts extended a playwriting fellowship to her. She received a similar offer in 1981 from McDowell Colony ("Paula Vogel"). Her stay at Cornell would be short-lived after she was fired in 982 for political reasons. This act by the university led her to two years of unemployment ("Paula Vogel"). She, however, took this time to enhance her theatrical skills through involvement in guest lectureships at the University of Alaska, and the McGill University. In 1984, Paula joined Brown University as a director of graduate playwriting program, a position she held for two decades (Rosenfeld). During her stay there, she led a robust nationally-acclaimed centre, and later the oversaw the formation of the Brown-Trinity Repertory Company Consortium. Shel left Brown University in 2008 and joined the Yale Repertory Theater as both the Playwriting-in-Residence chair and an adjunct professor ("Paula Vogel").
Paula Vogel's Plays
Paula Vogel's literary work centres on traditionally controversial issues such as prostitution and sexual abuse. Her playwriting career traces back to the 1970s ("Paula Vogel"). However, she remained relatively unnoticed until after she penned The Baltimore Waltz in 1989. It is this play that gave her the first major award in 1992, the Obie Award for Best Play (Mansbridge 87). This play was a dedication to Carl, who had died a year earlier. In it, she focused on the misconceptions and prejudices directed at an imaginary Acquired Toilet Disease (ATD), and sought to highlight the negative stereotypes and attitudes regarding HIV/AIDS and affected persons ("Paula Vogel").
Paula Vogel's most notable play, How I Learned to Drive, was authored in 1997 and won her the Pulitzer Prize. The play highlighted the plight of sexually abused children and incest. Besides this, she also wrote The Oldest Profession in 1981, Baby Makes Seven in 1984, A Play About A Handkerchief, and Desdemona, both in 1993, Hot 'N Throbbing in 1994 (Mansbridge 68). She also wrote The Mineola Twins in 1996 (Mansbridge 94). According to Paula, she "writes the plays backwards," which means that she begins from an emotional point then builds the character and the structure of the narrative. Her literary works are distinguishable in the world of theatre, where she has established a name. Besides the Pulitzer Prize, she has also won the Lortel Prize, New York Drama Critics Awards for Best Play, among others. She became the first female playwright to Yale's Library of American Literature in 2015 ("Paula Vogel").
"Paula Vogel". Production Portfolio, 2019. Online. Internet. July 30. 2019. Available: http://www.nigelsemaj.com/paula-vogel-.html.
Mansbridge, Joanna. Paula Vogel. University of Michigan Press, 2014.
Rosenfeld, Megan. "One 'Hot' Property". The Washington Post, 1999. Online. Internet. July 30. 2019. . Available: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/style/1999/09/12/one-hot-property/cb2d4e37-5b22-4aae-badf-438b7ebe255d/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.65cacef2196e.
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