Paula Vogel and Alan Safier at the WIlliam Inge Festival in 2010, where she was the honoree
16 November 1951 |
Washington, D.C., USA
|Alma mater||The Catholic University of America
Bryn Mawr College
|Spouse||Anne Fausto-Sterling (2004-present)|
|Magnum opus||How I Learned to Drive (1997)|
|Awards||Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1998)|
Vogel was born in Washington, D.C. to Donald Stephen Vogel, an advertising executive, and Phyllis Rita Bremerman, a secretary for United States Postal Service Training and Development Center. She is a graduate of The Catholic University of America (1974, B.A.) and Cornell University (1976, M.A.). Vogel also attended Bryn Mawr College from 1969 to 1970 and 1971 to 1972.
A productive playwright since the late 1970s, Vogel first came to national prominence with her AIDS-related seriocomedy The Baltimore Waltz, which won the Obie award for Best Play in 1992. She is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning play How I Learned to Drive (1997), which examines the impact and echoes of child sexual abuse and incest. Other notable plays include Desdemona, A Play About A Handkerchief (1979); The Oldest Profession (1981); And Baby Makes Seven (1984); Hot 'N Throbbing (1994); and The Mineola Twins (1996).
Although no particular theme or topic dominates her work, she often examines traditionally controversial issues such as sexual abuse and prostitution. Asserting that she "writes the play backwards," moving from emotional circumstances and character to craft narrative structure, Vogel says, "My writing isn't actually guided by issues.... I only write about things that directly impact my life." Vogel adds, "If people get upset, it's because the play is working." Vogel's family, especially her late brother Carl Vogel, influences her writings. Vogel says, "In every play, there are a couple of places where I send a message to my late brother Carl. Just a little something in the atmosphere of every play to try and change the homophobia in our world." Carl's likeness appears in such plays as The Long Christmas Ride Home (2003), The Baltimore Waltz, and And Baby Makes Seven.
"Vogel tends to select sensitive, difficult, fraught issues to theatricalize," theatre theorist Jill Dolan comments, "and to spin them with a dramaturgy that’s at once creative, highly imaginative, and brutally honest." Her work embraces theatrical devices from across several traditions, incorporating, in various works, direct address, bunraku puppetry, omniscient narration, and fantasy sequences. Critic David Finkel finds this breadth in Vogel's career to be reflective of a general tendency toward stylistic reinvention from work to work. "This playwright recoils at the notion of writing plays that are alike in their composition," Finkel writes. "She wants each play to be different in texture from those that have preceded it."
Vogel, a renowned teacher of playwriting, counts among her former students Susan Smith Blackburn Prize-winner Bridget Carpenter, Obie Award-winner Adam Bock, MacArthur Fellow Sarah Ruhl, and Pulitzer Prize-winners Nilo Cruz, Lynn Nottage, and Quiara Alegría Hudes. 
During her two decades leading the graduate playwriting program and new play festival at Brown University, Vogel helped develop a nationally-recognized center for educational theatre, culminating in the creation of the Brown/Trinity Repertory Company Consortium with Oskar Eustis, then Trinity's artistic director, in 2002. She left Brown in 2008 to assume her current posts as adjunct professor and the Chair of the playwriting department at Yale School of Drama, and the Playwright-in-Residence at Yale Repertory Theatre. Vogel previously served as an instructor at Cornell University during her graduate work in the mid-1970s.
Second Stage Theatre produced How I Learned to Drive as a part of their 2011-2012 season. It was the first New York City production of the play in 15 years.
Vogel had two brothers: Carl, who died of AIDS in 1988, and Mark. Carl is namesake for the Carl Vogel Center in Washington, D.C., founded by their father Don Vogel. The Center is a service provider for people living with HIV.
Honors and awards
Subsequent to her Obie Award for Best Play (1992) and Pulitzer Prize in Drama (1998), Vogel received the Award for Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004.
She won a Robert Chesley Award in 1997. She won the 1998 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. In 1999, Vogel received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a playwright in mid-career.
In 2003, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival created an annual Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting for "the best student-written play that celebrates diversity and encourages tolerance while exploring issues of dis-empowered voices not traditionally considered mainstream."
- Swan Song of Sir Henry (1974)
- Meg (1977)
- Apple-Brown Betty (1979)
- Desdemona, A Play about a Handkerchief (1979)
- Bertha in Blue (1981)
- The Oldest Profession (1981)
- And Baby Makes Seven (1984)
- The Baltimore Waltz (1992)
- Hot 'N Throbbing (1994)
- The Mineola Twins (1996)
- How I Learned to Drive (1997)
- The Long Christmas Ride Home (2004)
- Civil War Christmas (2008)
- Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq (2014)
- Fashion & Style (2004-09-26). "Paula Vogel, Anne Fausto-Sterling". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Parker, Mary-Louise. "Paula Vogel", BOMB Magazine, Fall 1997. Retrieved on 2011-07-19.
- Jill Dolan, "How I Learned to Drive" (review), Theatre Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1 (March 1998) p. 127.
- David Finkle (5 November 2003). "Review: The Long Christmas Ride Home". TheaterMania. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Adam Bock (Fall 2007). The Journey of The Receptionist (transcript). Interview with Annie MacRae. Manhattan Theatre Club. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Gerard Raymond · (12 October 2004). "Paula Vogel: The Signature Season". TheaterMania. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Rebecca Mead, “Stage Left,” The New Yorker, March 22, 2010, p. 25 .
- Campbell Robertson (18 January 2008). "Paula Vogel Goes to Yale". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Adam Hetrick (15 May 2008). "Yale Receives $2.85 Million Grant; Vogel Named Playwright-in-Residence". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- "The Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting". The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- "EXCLUSIVE: Betty Buckley, Sam Waterston, Trevor Nunn, Christopher Durang, Andre Bishop Among Theater Hall of Fame Inductees". www.playbill.com.
- Adam Hetrick (21 October 2008). "Russell, Sutherland, Johnson, Blanchard and McVety Set for Vogel's Civil War Christmas". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Profile at Brown University
- Paula Vogel at the Internet Broadway Database
- Paula Vogel at the Internet Movie Database
- Paula Vogel at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Works by or about Paula Vogel in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Paula Vogel collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Paula Vogel - Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org
- Biographical information on enotes.com
- Profile in innewsweekly.com, March 29, 2007
- 1997 BOMB Magazine interview of Paula Vogel by Mary-Louise Parker