Paula Vogel

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Paula Vogel
Paula Vogel in 2010.jpg
Paula Vogel at the WIlliam Inge Festival in 2010, where she was the honoree
Born (1951-11-16) November 16, 1951 (age 63)
Washington, D.C., USA
Occupation Playwright, professor
Nationality United States
Alma mater The Catholic University of America
Cornell University
Bryn Mawr College
Spouse Anne Fausto-Sterling (2004-present)
Magnum opus How I Learned to Drive (1997)
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1998)

Paula Vogel (born November 16, 1951) is an American playwright and university professor. She received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play, How I Learned to Drive. Vogel was Chair of the playwriting department at the Yale School of Drama.


Early years[edit]

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.[1] 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).

Her play The Oldest Profession received its first reading in February 1981 at the Hudson Guild, New York City, directed by Gordon Edelstein. The play premiered in April 1988 at Theatre Network in Edmonton, Canada and 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon, Canada, directed by Tom Bentley-Fisher. Subsequent productions include a reading at Brown University in April 1990 and a production by Company One in Hartford, Connecticut in October 1991.[2] The play premiered Off-Broadway in September 2004 in a Signature Theatre Company production.[3]

And Baby Makes Seven premiered Off-Broadway in April 1993, produced by the Circle Repertory Company at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The cast featured Peter Frechette, Cherry Jones and Mary Mara.[4][5] It was first produced by Theatre with Teeth, New York City, in January 1984, directed by Vogel. It was then produced at Theatre Rhinoceros, San Francisco, in February 1986, directed by Kris Gannon.[6]

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."[7] 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."[8] 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."[9]

Second Stage Theatre produced How I Learned to Drive in February 2012, the first New York City production of the play in 15 years.[10]

Vogel's new play, Indecent, co-created and directed by Rebecca Taichman, premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre on October 2, 2015, and then will run at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, in November 2015.[11][12]


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.[13][14]

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.[15] She left Brown in 2008 to assume her positions as adjunct professor and the Chair of the playwriting department at Yale School of Drama, which she held until 2012,[16] and the Playwright-in-Residence at Yale Repertory Theatre.[17][18] She is currently the Eugene O'Neill Professor (adjunct) of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama and playwright-in-residence at the Yale Repertory Theatre, as well as an artistic associate at Long Wharf Theatre.[19]

Vogel previously served as an instructor at Cornell University during her graduate work in the mid-1970s.

Personal life[edit]

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.[1]

Vogel married Brown University professor and author Anne Fausto-Sterling in Truro, Massachusetts, on September 26, 2004.[1]

Honors and awards[edit]

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 for How I Learned to Drive.[20] In 1999, Vogel received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a playwright in mid-career.[21]

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."[22]

In 2012, Paula Vogel was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[23]


In 2015 Paula Vogel's literary archive was obtained by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, and she became the first female playwright included in the library's Yale Collection of American Literature.[24]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Fashion & Style (2004-09-26). "Paula Vogel, Anne Fausto-Sterling". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  2. ^ Vogel, Paula. '"The Oldest Profession", The Baltimore Waltz and Other Plays, Theatre Communications Group, 1995, ISBN 155936713X, pp. 128-129
  3. ^ "'The Oldest Profession' Off-Broadway", accessed October 4, 2015
  4. ^ Gerard, Jeremy. "Review. 'And Baby Makes Seven'" Variety, May 11, 1993
  5. ^ "'And Baby Makes Seven' Off-Broadway Listing", accessed October 4, 2015
  6. ^ Vogel, Paula. '"And Baby Makes Seven", The Baltimore Waltz and Other Plays, Theatre Communications Group, 1995, ISBN 155936713X, p. 60
  7. ^ Parker, Mary-Louise. "Paula Vogel", BOMB Magazine, Fall 1997. Retrieved on 2011-07-19.
  8. ^ Jill Dolan, "How I Learned to Drive" (review), Theatre Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1 (March 1998) p. 127.
  9. ^ David Finkle (5 November 2003). "Review: The Long Christmas Ride Home". TheaterMania. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  10. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "'How I Learned to Drive' Extended Off-Broadway" Playbill, February 22, 2012
  11. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn. "Paula Vogel On Her New Play 'Indecent', Historic Controversy and the "Beautiful Love Story of Two Women" Playbill, September 20, 2015
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman's 'Indecent' Makes World Premiere Tonight" Playbill, October 2, 2015
  13. ^ Adam Bock (Fall 2007). The Journey of The Receptionist (transcript). Interview with Annie MacRae. Manhattan Theatre Club. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  14. ^ Gerard Raymond · (12 October 2004). "Paula Vogel: The Signature Season". TheaterMania. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  15. ^ Rebecca Mead, “Stage Left,” The New Yorker, March 22, 2010, p. 25 .
  16. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Paula Vogel to Exit Role at Yale School of Drama; New Projects On the Horizon" Playbill, August 16, 2011
  17. ^ Campbell Robertson (18 January 2008). "Paula Vogel Goes to Yale". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  18. ^ Adam Hetrick (15 May 2008). "Yale Receives $2.85 Million Grant; Vogel Named Playwright-in-Residence". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  19. ^ "Vogel Bio", accessed October 4, 2015
  20. ^ Szatmary, Peter. "Vogel & Buffini Win 20th Annual Blackburn Prize" Playbill, February 24, 1998
  21. ^ "1999 Literary Award Winners", accessed October 4, 2015
  22. ^ "The Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting". The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew (September 24, 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Betty Buckley, Sam Waterston, Trevor Nunn, Christopher Durang, Andre Bishop Among Theater Hall of Fame Inductees". 
  24. ^ Purcell, Carey (January 8, 2015). "Yale Library Obtains Archive of Paula Vogel, First Female Playwright Included in American Literature Collection". Playbill. 
  25. ^ Adam Hetrick (21 October 2008). "Russell, Sutherland, Johnson, Blanchard and McVety Set for Vogel's Civil War Christmas". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  26. ^ "'Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq', Wilma Theater", accessed October 2, 2015

External links[edit]