Playwright Paula Vogel Shares Passion for the Arts at Eckler Lecture

March 12, 2009

Paula Vogel Presents 2009 Eckler LecturePlaywright and author of How I Learned to Drive, Paula Vogel, presented the Eckler Lecture at Mount Union College on Tuesday evening.

This past October, Mount Union students performed Vogel’s 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner, How I Learned to Drive, which also won her several other outstanding awards, including her second OBIE.

“I write plays because I want to give gifts of love to others,” Vogel said.  “However, you don’t choose the plays, the plays choose you.  It is when you start to think about writing a play as a collective game that it actually becomes a breakthrough.” 

Vogel explained that by being engaged in theatre, student writers and actors can become active citizens in a democratic society. “Theatre, like all of the arts, operates with a different set of values,” Vogel said.  “Great theatre makes us wake up and see life in a new way.”  She also offered five theories on why theatre matters, including that it is a vital tool for our collective spiritual health, which inspired those with an interest in the arts to follow their dreams.

Vogel is the author of Desdemona and Baby Makes Seven, The Long Christmas Ride Home and The Mineola Twins.  Her latest work, A Civil War Christmas, is in development by Long Wharf Theatre and The Old Globe Theatre.

She also wrote several screenplays, including On Common Ground for Showtime and an adaptation of How I Learned to Drive for Laura Ziskind Productions and HBO.

Vogel earned a bachelor of the arts in theatre from Catholic University, and she then went on to graduate school at Cornell University.  She produced more than 140 plays at Brown University, and is currently the Eugene O’Neill Professor of Playwriting and chair of the Department of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.

“I am blessed to be able to write new work while mentoring playwrights at the Yale School of Drama,” Vogel said.  “I am addicted to watching young playwrights, actors, directors and technicians take hold of the stage.”

Established in 1981, The Mary W. and Eric A. Eckler Lecture in Literature and Drama was an endowment by Mr. John A. and Mrs. Dorothy (Nelson '29) Cummins in gratitude of the Eckler’s many years of service to the Mount Union community. The Ecklers were long-time faculty members of Mount Union's Department of English.

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