Mary Baldwin University Theatre presents Paula Vogel’s 1998 Pulitzer prize play,How I Learned to Drive, November 16-20. In the drama, a teacher shares a secret: her story of growing up in the 1960s, when her Uncle Peck taught her to drive. Unlike Li’l Bit’s vulgar family and the groping adolescent boys in middle school, Peck has lovely manners, and he supports Li’l Bit’s passion for learning. He also is a serial child abuser.
A teacher herself, Vogel explains, “I wrote [the play], in some ways, as a gift to the younger people I’ve taught and continue to teach. I know how hard it is to reach the empowerment of adulthood, and I wanted to give something to them: that we sometimes receive gifts from people who have hurt us. And we should use those gifts, look at the pain as truthfully as we can, and hopefully, we can move on.”
The sensitive issue of child sexual abuse is timely. About 896,000 U.S. children were victims of maltreatment in 2002, the most recent year for which data are available. About 10% of these children were sexually abused, most by family members.
Todd Ristau, assistant professor of theatre and a professional actor and playwright, plays Peck. Misty Critzer, a senior theatre major from Crozet, appears as Li’l Bit. All other parts are juggled by Robert Wright of Staunton, Amanda King of Louisa, and Molly Sparks of Terrace Park, Ohio.
Dr. Virginia Francisco, professor of theatre, directs. Terry Southerington, professor of theatre, produces.
The public is invited Wednesday-Saturday, November 16-19 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 20 at 2 p.m. at the college’s Fletcher Collins Theatre. Tickets may be purchased at the box office Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. or reserved by credit card by calling (540) 887-7189 during regular box office hours.