The opening line of University Theatre’s spring 2014 production puts forth a powerful and very specific thesis: “Sometimes to tell a secret, you first have to teach a lesson.”
This thesis from the lead character in Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “How I Learned to Drive,” will permeate the entire production at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan.
Opening at UW-Sheboygan April 10-12, 2014, this dark comedy by playwright Paula Vogel offers intense drama and emotions all rolled into one performance.
“How I Learned to Drive” tells the story of a woman who learns the rules of the road -- and life -- from behind the wheel. The play is a funny, surprising and devastating tale of survival as seen through the lens of an abusive relationship between a young girl and an older man.
Dr. Thomas Campbell, UW-Sheboygan Assistant Professor of Communication and Theatre Arts and University Theatre Director said he chose the play due to its beautiful storytelling. “It also falls into my artistic intentions that theatre can, and should, be challenging to all participants,” stated Campbell.
“This is an emotionally demanding play,” he added. “This is a story that illustrates how we can use storytelling as a tool to help navigate through the healing process.”
“The protagonist, Li’l Bit, is an adult who jumps back and forth in time, reflecting on a sexually abusive relationship she had as a child with her uncle. Li’l Bit tells us this story as a way to continue her healing process,” said Campbell. “She looks back on her life and shows us these events to illustrate how she’s still processing and coming to terms with a traumatic relationship. A lot of people have focused on the pedophilia with this play, and while that is at the center of the story, the play is really about healing, acceptance, and ultimately, forgiveness.”
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1998, “How I Learned to Drive” is widely considered one of the best contemporary pieces of American dramatic literature. The play showcases a unique presentation and storytelling style, utilizing non-linear story progression. Audiences will watch as characters jump around in time and place and the production showcases three chorus members who portray 10 different supporting characters.
The cast includes only five actors, including UW-Sheboygan students and community members.
“I’m very happy to be working with this group of people on such a beautiful, challenging story,” Campbell said. “Each of them is bringing something to the process that is really special.”
Performances of “How I Learned to Drive” will be offered Thursday, April 10 and Friday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 12 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the UW-Sheboygan Fine Arts Theatre. The show is recommended for mature audiences only.
A special panel discussion regarding the play and its messages will be offered to guests and the community prior to the Saturday, April 12 performance at 6:30 p.m. in the theatre.
Tickets are general seating only, and are available for $10 for the general public, $5 for students and senior citizens and FREE to UW-Sheboygan students with ID. Advance tickets can be purchased in the UW-Sheboygan Business Services Office Monday-Friday, or by calling the Box Office at (920) 459-6652. Tickets also will be available one hour before show times in the Fine Arts Theatre Box Office. The Fine Arts Theatre is handicapped accessible and assisted listening devices are available for the hearing impaired on site.
For more information or to order tickets, contact the UW-Sheboygan Box Office at (920) 459-6652. For more information about the play, please contact University Theatre Director Dr. Thomas Campbell at (920) 459-6677 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How I Learned to Drive Cast:
LI’L BIT – Hilary Mayer
UNCLE PECK – Jonathan Porter
FEMALE GREEK CHORUS MEMBER – Carrie Johns, UW-Sheboygan student
MALE GREEK CHORUS – David Lee, UW-Sheboygan student
TEENAGE GREEK CHORUS – Lacey Meyer, UW-Sheboygan student