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Longstreet Theatre
Green and Sumter Streets
Main Office, Room 402
Columbia, SC 29208

phone: 803.777.4288   
fax: 803.777.6669
email: theatre@sc.edu or dance@sc.edu

College of Arts and Sciences Homepage


The Department of Theatre and Dance

How I Learned to Drive

Written by Paula Vogel
Directed by Eric Bultman

February 7-10, 2013

Lab Theatre
1400 Wheat St.

8pm, all shows

$5, available only at the door
Arrive early, as seating is limited.

How I Learned to Drive contains adult themes
which may not be suitable for children.

How I Learned to Drive
Grace Ann Roberts is Li'l Bit and Don Russell is Uncle Peck
in Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive.
Photo by Katie Foshee.

The University of SC theatre program will stage Paula Vogel's powerful, Pulitzer Prize-winning drama How I Learned to Drive at the Lab Theatre, February 7-10, 2013.

Show times for the production are 8pm nightly.  Tickets are $5 and available on a first-come, first-served basis at the theatre each evening.  The Lab Theatre, the university’s intimate “black box” performance space, is located in the Booker T. Washington building at 1400 Wheat Street, across from Blatt PE Center. How I Learned to Drive contains adult themes which may not be suitable for children.

Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, How I Learned to Drive was described by The New York Times as “one of the most discomfiting love stories to emerge from the American theater.” Vogel’s affecting drama traces the coming-of-age of main character Li’l Bit, whose life is forever changed by the sexual relationship she develops with her uncle. How I Learned to Drive is the story of a woman who learns the rules of the road and life from behind the wheel.

Director Eric Bultman, an alum of the university's MFA in Acting program and current Executive Director of the Sumter Little Theatre, says that he first encountered Vogel's acclaimed memory play in the pages of American Theatre magazine almost fifteen years ago. "I had no idea what it was about," he recalls, "which was great because I had no idea where the playwright was going to take me. I was blown away… I laughed, I cried, and I find myself doing the same thing now in rehearsal."

Bultman says Vogel's writing approaches difficult issues with a deft delicateness. "This is a powerful play, but it is extremely delicate. Vogel fills the play with humor, which is quite difficult when dealing with a subject like sexual abuse."

"The play is a sensitive look at the main character's experience of pedophilia as her uncle, Peck, teaches her how to drive. The abuse begins when she is eleven years old and continues until she leaves for college. Vogel crafts the story so brilliantly, because you never see Peck as a monster…. Peck is actually the only member of the family who cares for Li'l Bit; unfortunately, his care manifests itself in a despicable way."

Bultman says he is impressed by the level of skill his cast of actors are bringing to the production. "I am so impressed by the work my cast is doing. Not to overwork the metaphor, but they are taking this very difficult story by the steering wheel and fearlessly learning how to drive it."

Freshman theatre major Grace Ann Roberts is cast in the challenging role of L'il Bit. MFA Acting candidate Don Russell will take on the role of her uncle, Peck. Rounding out the small cast are a "greek chorus" who comment on the action, played by senior theatre major Chandler Walpole, freshman theatre major Jamie Boller and sophomore media arts major Grace Fennell. Sophomore business and marketing major Katie Cole is stage manager for the production.

"With this play, these young actors are required to go places psychologically that they've never been before and it's not easy," says the director. "I understand that and respect them so much for taking the journey with me."

For more information on How I Learned to Drive or the theatre program at the University of SC, please contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.