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Paula Vogel is an American
playwright and university professor who reached great fame for her award-winning
plays throughout her career. Vogel was born on November 16th, 1951
in Washington D.C. to both of her parents Donald Stephen Vogel, once an
advertising executive and Phyllis Rita who worked as a secretary for the United
States Postal Service Training and Development Center before their divorce
which forced Vogel and her mother to consistently move from place to place.


Coming out as a
lesbian at the age of seventeen, Paula soon after began her attendance at Bryn
Mawr college (women’s liberal arts college in Pennsylvania) before transferring
to Catholic University of American in 1974 where she received her Bachelor’s
Degree of Arts. After receiving her BA, she then proceeded onto attending
Cornell University where she then received her Master of Arts in 1976 and her
PhD later on in 2016. After her departure for Cornell, she then worked at the
American Place of Theatre and soon after returned to Cornell where she began
teaching from 1979-1982. After her time at Cornell came to an end, she then
took on the role of being the director at the MFA program in playwriting at
Brown University which she left in 2008 where she received her position on
being the Chair of the playwriting department for the Yale School of Drama
while assuming her role of being a professor. Throughout her time being a teacher
and in school, she made it possible to always be a productive playwright.  

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Her very first play, Meg, was brought to life and produced 1977
in Washington DC which made it possible for her to be awarded the American
College Theater Festival Award for best new play. Despite the different plays
that she has written, she first reached national fame for her comedy-drama, The Baltimore Waltz. The AIDS inspired
play was produced in 1992 which then landed her an OBIE award for best play. Even
though she has written a fantastic amount of plays throughout her lengthy
career, she is best known for her play How
I Learned to Drive, which was the most produced play in the country. This play,
written in 1997, discusses and examines the impact of child sexual abuse and
incest, which Vogel enjoys choosing a style that has a social voice that will
make an impact with the audience. This play when produced landed Vogel numerous
awards along with national fame. These awards consist of a Pulitzer Prize,
Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics’ Awards, New York Drama Critics Circle Award,
and OBIE awards.

As a playwright,
there is no particular theme or main topic that influences her work. Likes
stated before, she maintains a strong and assertive social voice throughout the
work that she produces. Her work is
mainly composed of controversial issues such as prostitution and sexual abuse
and others. Her style derives from using a Brechtian style, moving away from
emotional involvement and focusing on the reflective detachment from the
audience. Vogel has stated throughout different interviews and media outlets
that she does not write about issues going on in the world today, but issues
that she or her loved ones have experienced. Such as her brother Carl Vogel,
who died in 1988 due to AIDS, which most can say is correlated with her play How I Learned to Drive.


Fun Facts:


Vogel was inducted into the American Theater
Hall of Fame in 2013 for her achievements as a playwright

In 2016, more than 40 years later, Vogel finally
went back and defended her doctoral thesis at Cornell which she obtained her

The Kennedy Center American College Theater
Festival created an award in Paula’s behalf which celebrates diversity and
encourages toleranc

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