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March 9, 2001

Pulitzer-Winning Play Performed at CSUS

Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize winning play How I Learned to Drive comes to CSUS March 22 - 25.

The play, part of the University's Women's History Month, will be in the Studio Theater in Shasta Hall.

How I Learned To Drive opened in New York in 1997 and won the New York Critics' Circle Best Play Award, the Obie Award for playwriting and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1998.

The play tells the story of a young woman growing up in the 1960s and 70s and how her life was defined by driving lessons provided by her uncle, who also sexually abused her.

Directed by Barbara Norris, a CSUS theatre and dance graduate student, How I Learned to Drive, while addressing a serious topic, is presented in a deliberately joking manner.

"There are many things that fascinate me about this play," Norris says. "For instance, Vogel's use of humor. It's such a serious subject and yet in many ways this play is a rollicking comedy. Vogel said she used humor to disarm the audience, the way Hitchcock did, so we find ourselves laughing though horrified."

Many of the scenes take place during driving lessons set in suburban Maryland and is based on the memories of the play's heroine as she looks back on these experiences from the perspective of middle age and focuses on how she emerged as a survivor of child abuse.

"During the course of the play, a woman in her late 30s tells us about her childhood and her family," Norris says. "The woman focuses on her experiences with her uncle who taught her how to drive and molested her from the time she was 11 years old."

How I Learned to Drive will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 22 and at 8 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 23 - 25.

How I Learned to Drive is a free event co-sponsored by the CSUS Women's Resource Center and the department of theatre and dance.

"I am really glad we were able to work with the theatre and dance department, " says Pat Grady, Women's Resource Center coordinator. "This is the first year that we are co-producing a play with feminist themes that will be directed by a graduate student. It's great that we are able to support a student production."

The play contains adult themes and is suggested for mature audiences.

Media assistance is available at the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.


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