Paula Vogel Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Paula Anne Vogel was born to a working-class family in Washington, D.C. After her parents’ divorce, she was raised by her mother. Vogel’s family life, education, and early career were not free of problems, but the challenges and failures she faced taught her lessons and helped her build the resilience necessary for life as a writer. She first became interested in drama in high school and began working as a stage manager for school productions. She began college at Bryn Mawr but lost her scholarship and finished her undergraduate education at Catholic University in Washington, where she earned her B.A. in 1974. She hoped to attend graduate school at the Yale School of Drama, but her application was rejected. She entered a Ph.D. program at Cornell University but left in 1977, not having completed her dissertation. By then her playwriting career had begun to experience some success.

Vogel’s first theatrical success came with Meg, a three-act play examining the life and martyrdom of the Catholic saint Sir Thomas More, as seen from the perspective of his daughter Margaret. The play won the 1977 American College Theater Festival award for best new play and was produced at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Vogel’s interest in exploring traditionally male stories from the vantage point of women characters can also be seen in Desdemona, in which the story of William Shakespeare’s Othello (pr. 1604) is retold from the point of view of Othello’s wife. Vogel turns the innocent young woman of Shakespeare’s play into a wicked, deceitful character embodying Othello’s worst nightmares.

A major breaktrough in Vogel’s career came in 1992 with The Baltimore Waltz, a play inspired by the time she spent helping her brother Carl in his final battle with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The play is a tribute to her brother...

(The entire section is 784 words.)


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Paula Anne Vogel was born to a Jewish father and a Roman Catholic mother, Donald and Phyllis Vogel, in Washington, D.C., in 1951. Her parents divorced when she was thirteen, and she lived with her mother and brother in working-class apartments in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. Her mother moved their family to a new apartment every year or so. At age seventeen, she came out as a lesbian. She received her B.A. from Catholic University of America in 1974. She spent three years in graduate school at Cornell before leaving without writing her dissertation in 1977. Vogel worked for the American Place Theater from 1978 to 1979 before joining the staff of Cornell, where she worked from 1979 to 1982. In 1985 she began working as the director for the M.F.A. in Playwrighting Program at Brown University in Rhode Island.

In addition to her work as a teacher, Vogel had several plays given full productions beginning with Meg, which was produced by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 1977 and Apple Brown Betty, which was produced by the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1979. She labored in relative obscurity until 1992, when she had her first big success with The Baltimore Waltz, which she wrote following her brother’s death from AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The play won the Obie Award for best play that year. Her next major New York opening was the critically panned And Baby Makes Seven. The play,...

(The entire section is 491 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Paula Anne Vogel was born on November 16,1951, in Washington, D.C., and lived there throughout most of her early life. She attended Bryn Mawr...

(The entire section is 468 words.)