Elizabeth Birnkrant, known for her roles in JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN for Eclipse Theatre, 1984 at Steppenwolf, VICES AND VIRTUES: THE GREAT WAR at Profiles Theatre and other roles with Sideshow, First Floor and Roadworks theatre companies, has been cast in the leading role of L’il Bit in The Artistic Home’s production of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize winning HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE. The Artistic Home co-founder John Mossman will play Uncle Peck, the family member who has a sexual relationship with his niece Li’l Bit during her pre-teen and teenage years. Mossman, who directed The Artistic Home’s BY THE BOG OF CATS last year, as an actor has most recently appeared as Leontes in THE WINTERS TALE and O'Trigger in THE RIVALS at Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre. He has also appeared with The Artistic Home as MACBETH and as Shannon in NIGHT OF THE IGUANA. He played Atticus Finch in Oak Park Festival Theatre's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and performed in the Steppenwolf production of THE MARCH.
Kayla Adams, the company’s Associate Artistic Director who is directing the production, announced casting today. Her cast will also include Jenna Steege (Female Greek Chorus), Kelley Holcomb (Teenage Greek Chorus), and company member Reid Coker (Male Greek Chorus). Adams’ production team will include Kevin Rolfs (scenic design), Zack Berinstein (sound design), Hailey Rakowiecki (costume design), Alexander McRae (assistant director) and Sara Ann Dickey (stage manager).
HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE will open to the press Sunday, March 25 at 7:00 pm, following previews from March 21-24. HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, which premiered in 1997, was a Pulitzer Prize winner and a pioneering drama for its examination of pedophilia and sexual abuse of women. It follows a young woman, named L’il Bit, from age 11 to age 18 and her friendship and sexual affair with her uncle. Director Adams says, “this courageous and surprising script reminds me again and again of the healing power of storytelling.” In reviewing the 2017 production by the Cleveland Playhouse, the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER said, “We can rejoice that "How I Learned to Drive" feels as fresh and fearless as it did two decades ago - and mourn for the same reason.”
HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE premiered in 1997 in a production by New York City’s Vineyard Theatre that starred Mary-Louise Parker (later succeeded by Molly Ringwald) and David Morse. That production ran for nearly a year and was revived off-Broadway in 2012.
Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, co-winner of both the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 1998 Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play, HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE has also been acclaimed by theatre critics across the country. THE NEW YORK TIMES said, "Ms. Vogel has written a lovely, harrowing guide to the crippling persistence of one woman's memories." The VILLAGE VOICE reported "…HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE is a tremendous achievement, genuine and genuinely disturbing… Vogel's delicate tactic makes sense not only as a way to redouble the dramatic effect, but as a representation of reality, a perfect case of the form fitting the subject.” VARIETY wrote, "With subtle humor and teasing erotic encounters, Vogel addresses the dangerous intersections of teenage temptation. She also paints a richly poetic and picturesque landscape…The play is a potent and convincing comment on a taboo subject, and its impact sneaks up on its audience."
The production will play at The Artistic Home’s theatre at 1376 W. Grand Avenue. Tickets are now on sale by phone at 866/811-4111 or online at http://www.theartistichome.org/. Previews will be Wednesday, March 21 through Saturday, March 24 at 8:00 pm each night. Regular run (March 25 – May 6) performances will be Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm.
Kayla Adams (Director) is a Chicago-based director and producer who joined The Artistic Home as Associate Artistic Director in October 2017 and directed the company’s production of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET: A RADIO PLAY in December. She also produced and curated the company’s CUT TO THE CHASE festival and was assistant director on THE SCHOOL FOR LIES. Her directing credits in the Seattle area include: QUALITY: THE SHOE PLAY for Bellingham TheatreWorks and OFFICE HOURS for Idiom Theatre, MR. MARMALADE at Western Washington University, and THE LAST FIVE YEARS for the vocal studio of Jay Rosenthal. She was also Assistant Director for Topdog/Underdog at Bellingham TheatreWorks. In Mexico City, Kayla directed THE ALIENS for Teatro UNAM. Kayla holds a degree in Theatre Arts from Western Washington University.
Paula Vogel (Playwright) won the Pulitzer Prize, New York Drama Critics Award, Obie Award, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle for HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE. Her play INDECENT was produced on Broadway in 2017 and earned a Tony Award ® nomination for Best Play and a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Play. Her other plays include A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS, THE LONG CHRISTMAS RIDE HOME, THE MINEOLA TWINS, HOT ‘N’ THROBBIN, THE BALTIMORE WALTZ, DESDEMONA, AND BABY MAKES SEVEN, and THE OLDEST PROFESSION.
Vogel’s plays have been produced in New York by Second Stage, New York Theatre Workshop, the Vineyard Theatre, Roundabout, and Circle Repertory Company; and regionally all over the country at such prestigious theater companies as the Center Stage, Intiman, Trinity Repertory, Woolly Mammoth, Huntington Theatre, Magic Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theatre Berkeley Repertory, and Alley Theatres to name a few. Internationally, her plays have been produced in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand as well as translated and produced in Italy, Germany, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, Romania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Canada, Portugal, France, Greece, Japanese, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and other countries.
John Simon once remarked that Paula Vogel had more awards than a “black sofa collects lint.” Some of these include induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame, Thornton Wilder Award, Lifetime Achievement from the Dramatists Guild, the William Inge Award, the Elliott Norton Award, two Obies, a Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the PEN/Laura Pels Award, a TCG residency award, a Guggenheim, a Pew Charitable Trust Award, and fellowships and residencies at Sundance Theatre Lab, Hedgebrook, The Rockefeller Center’s Bellagio Center, Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Bunting.
Ms. Vogel is also honored by three Awards in her name: the Paula Vogel Award for playwrights given by The Vineyard Theatre, the Paula Vogel Award from the American College Theatre Festival, and the Paula Vogel mentorship program, curated by Quiara Hudes and Young Playwrights of Philadelphia.
ABOUT THE ARTISTIC HOME
The Artistic Home is noted for their innovative and intimate presentations of rarely-produced classics as well developing new works. Audiences may know The Artistic Home best from 2017’s WEDDING BAND, BY THE BOG OF CATS and THE SCHOOL FOR LIES, their Jeff-nominated productions of THE SEAGULL, WATCH ON THE RHINE, MACBETH and THE LATE HENRY MOSS; or their 2013 Jeff Award-winner THE GODDESS. Other Artistic Home productions include the Jeff-Award-winning production of JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK, which also received three After Dark Awards, the Jeff-Nominated SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, THE TALLEST MAN, LANDSCAPE OF THE BODY, NATURAL AFFECTION, FIVE WOMEN WEARING THE SAME DRESS, AFTER THE FALL and PEER GYNT (which also received an After Dark award for Direction).
For more than 19 years, The Artistic Home has consistently produced compelling theatre in Chicago. First formed in 1998 with the belief that the actor is at the heart of great theater, the company strives to give birth to unforgettable moments; to touch audiences who are increasingly distanced from human contact; to readdress the classics and explore new works with passion.
HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE
By Paula Vogel
Directed by Kayla Adams
March 21 – May 6, 2018
Previews Wednesday, March 21 – Saturday, March 24 at 8:00 pm
Press Opening Sunday, March 25 at 7:00 pm
Regular schedule Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 3:00 pm
Preview Tickets are $15. Regular prices are $28 for Thursday or Sunday(seniors & students $20), $32 for Friday or Saturday.
The Artistic Home Theatre
1376 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago 60642
tickets: 866/811-4111 or go to http://www.theartistichome.org/
Accessible via the CTA #65 Grand bus and the Blue Line.