How I Learned to Drive
"HOW I LEARN TO DRIVE"
IS A FORGIVING STORY OF
AN UNFORGIVEABLE RELATIONSHIP
Strawberry Theatre Workshop
presents Paula Vogel's Pulitzer winner
June 7-July 7 at 12th Ave Arts
In a time when American culture has seemingly lost its tolerance for ambiguity, a production of Paula Vogel's 1997 play How I Learned to Drive can be both edifying and appalling. Strawberry Theatre Workshop continues its thread of plays dominated by women (writers, characters, and issues) with the work that gained Vogel the Pulitzer Prize. How I Learned to Drive opens June 7 at 12th Ave Arts on Capitol Hill and has eighteen performances through July 7.
Amy Danneker plays Li'l Bit, who takes the stage ''to get the audience to go along for a ride they wouldn't ordinarily take, or don't even know they're taking'' (Vogel, New York Times, 16-May-1997). She is a survivor of teenage sexual abuse whose story is disarmingly comic, sweet, and seductive. Her memories are scrambled and ridden with guilt--making it difficult for the listener to form conventional judgements.
Ambiguity revolves mostly around the character of Uncle Peck, played at Strawshop by Frank Boyd. Described by Ben Brantley as "surely the most engaging pedophile to walk across an American stage," Peck is "a relative you wish had been around when you were growing up to run interference with the other adults" (Brantley, New York Times, 17-May-1997). Peck is a combat veteran and recovering alcoholic with a damaged life--a character normally deserving of sympathy and support. But Peck's coping mechanisms include a skill for keeping secrets that the playwright unmasks on page one.
Peck perfectly fits the profile of a predator. Watching a Seattle production in 2018, audiences will be tempted to project Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, or Ed Murray--contemporary role-models who were admired by the activist community, though mostly from the distance of celebrity. When these men's personal secrets were revealed, many wished against their better judgment for innocent explanations. Are we implicated in an unforgivable crime if we feel ambiguity toward its perpetrator?
Director Ryan Purcell of The Williams Project (James Baldwin's Blues for Mr Charlie) brought How I Learned to Drive to Artistic Director Greg Carter's attention as the #MeToo movement was virally emerging in 2017. It was a natural addition to a roster of great plays for women that Strawshop has staged at 12th Ave Arts in the last two years: Proof, Lydia, Why We Have a Body, and the all-female cast Frost/Nixon.
Danneker (A View from the Bridge at Seattle Rep) and Boyd (The Holler Sessions at On the Boards) are joined by a three-person Greek Chorus: Shanna Allman (The Government Inspector at Seattle Shakes) plays both Li'l Bit's mother and Peck's wife; Rachel Guyer-Mafune (The Wolves at ACT) plays the grandmother and teenaged Li'l Bit; while Marco Voli plays the grandfather and multiple other roles.
Paula Vogel has been a productive playwright since the late 1970s. She first came to national prominence with her AIDS-related The Baltimore Waltz, which won the Obie Award for Best Play in 1992. Her most recent play, Indecent, was nominated for the 2017 Drama Desk Award.
Strawshop's How/Drive is designed by Emily Leong (lights), Kelsey Rogers (props), Greg Carter (scenery), KD Schill (costumes), and Matt Jorgensen (sound). The Stage Manager is Rebecca Pauza.
About Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Founded in 2004 by Greg Carter, Strawberry Theatre Workshop is a professional theatre company dedicated to socially engaged work of the highest caliber. Strawshop is a Stranger Genius Award winner, a six-time Seattle Times Footlight Award winner, and the only company to be nominated for a TPS Gregory Award for Outstanding Production four years in a row (2009-12). Known for its critically acclaimed productions of Frost/Nixon, Our Town, The Normal Heart, Breaking the Code, The Elephant Man, and Proof, Strawshop is anchored in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Strawshop is one of the resident companies in the 12th Ave Arts building, which opened on Capitol Hill in 2015.
Strawberry Theatre Workshop is committed to the idea that the theatre is the people's place of aspiration, and that any voice from the stage is translated exponentially into conversations at coffee shops, bus stops, classrooms, and play fields. Strawshop is dedicated to the idea of ensemble, in the broadest sense of the word. Our ensemble does not only mean a resident company of workers, but a collective that includes our work, our audience, and our neighborhood. This is an activist stance. To be a good neighbor is to be a relevant neighbor, a responsible neighbor, and a vocal neighbor.
Title: How I Learned to Drive
Opens: Thursday, June 7, 2018
Plays: Thu-Fri-Sat and Mon, 7:30 pm
NO PERFORMANCE MONDAY JUNE 11
Venue: Mainstage Theatre at 12th Ave Arts
Address: 1620 12th Ave, Capitol Hill, Seattle
Ticket Prices: $36 General, $24 Mondays
Phone Sales: 1-800-838-3006
Online Sales: strawshop.bpt.me
READ MORE AT: www.strawshop.org
12th Ave Arts Mainstage (View)
1620 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|