Paula Vogel Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Paula Vogel is known only for her plays.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Paula Vogel has received numerous awards for her work. In 1975 and again in 1976 she won the Heerbes-McCalmon Playwrighting Award, and in 1978 she won the American National Theater and Academy-West Award. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995 and a Pew/TCG senior residency award from 1995 to 1997. She has also received the Rhode Island Pell Award in the Arts, the Robert Chesley Award in Playwrighting, an AT&T New Plays Award, and several National Endowment for the Arts fellowships

Vogel’s plays have also been honored. In 1977, as a student at Cornell she won the American College Theater Festival Award for best new play for Meg. The Baltimore Waltz won the 1992 Obie Award for Best Play. In addition she won the Fund for New American Plays Award in 1995 for Hot ’n’ Throbbing. How I Learned to Drive is clearly Vogel’s most honored play. It won the Best Play honors in 1997 from Lortel Awards, the Drama Desk Awards, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, and the Obie Awards. In 1998 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

After writing How I Learned to Drive, Vogel has become one of the most influential feminist playwrights in the United States and in the world. Her work has been produced at theaters across the country including the American Repertory Theater, the Circle Repertory Theatre, the Juilliard School, Theater Rhinoceros in San Francisco, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and many others. She is helping to create a feminist aesthetic that calls for deeply flawed female characters. She also has managed to successfully write plays that deal with complex issues that would normally be considered taboo for a self-identified feminist playwright.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bigsby, C. W. E. “Paula Vogel.” In Contemporary American Playwrights. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Vogel is one of ten playwrights whose careers are overviewed in this volume.

Friedman, Sharon. “Revisioning the Woman’s Part: Paula Vogel’s Desdemona.” New Theatre Quarterly 15 (May, 1999): 131-141. Examines the complex gender issues in Vogel’s Shakespeare-inspired play and the ways in which Vogel pushes the boundaries of feminist theater.

Nourveh, Andrea J. “Flashing Back: Dramatizing the Trauma of Incest and Child Sexual Abuse.” Theatre Symposium: A Journal of the Southern Theatre Conference 7 (1999): 49-63. Considers Vogel’s treatment of adolescent sexual abuse in How I Learned to Drive and compares it to that of American playwright Marsha Norman.

Novy, Marianne. “Saving Desdemona and/or Ourselves: Plays by Ann-Marie MacDonald and Paula Vogel.” In Transforming Shakespeare: Contemporary Women’s Re-Visions in Literature and Performance, edited by Marianne Novy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Compares Vogel’s Desdemona with MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet to discuss feminist reclamations of Shakespearean heroines.

Richardson, Brian. “Voice and Narration in Postmodern Drama.” New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation 32 (Summer, 2001): 681-694. Compares Vogel’s experimentation with narrative voice in Hot ’n’ Throbbing with that of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett in his later works.

Savran, David. Introduction to The Baltimore Waltz and Other Plays, by Paula Vogel. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1996. Savran’s introduction, as well as Vogel’s preface to the plays, offers interesting ways of approaching the works and helps to shed light on the writer’s intentions.

Sinfield, Alan. Out on Stage: Lesbian and Gay Theatre in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1999. Although he only touches briefly on The Baltimore Waltz, Sinfield tries to group Vogel and many other gay and lesbian dramatists into categories that can serve as a starting point for comparisons between works.

Vogel, Paula. “Driving Ms. Vogel.” Interview by David Savran. American Theatre 15 (October, 1998): 16 ff. Interview topics include the success of How I Learned to Drive, Vogel’s early work in the theater, and incidents in her life that have inspired her writing.

Vogel, Paula. “Paula Vogel: No Need for Gravity.” Interview by Stephanie Coen. American Theatre 10 (April, 1993): 26-28. An interview in which Vogel discusses, among other things, the political content of her plays, her views on teaching playwriting, and the economic climate of the American theater.