‘How I Learned to Drive’
By: Frenche` Brewer, email@example.com, 803-777-3691
The University of South Carolina’s Lab Theatre opens the season Thursday, Feb. 7, with the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “How I Learned to Drive.”
The play runs Feb. 7-10.
Written by Paula Vogel and directed by USC alumnus Eric Bultman, “How I Learned to Drive” is the story of a woman who learns the rules of the road and life from behind the wheel. Vogel’s drama traces the coming-of-age of the main character, Li’l Bit, whose life is forever changed by the sexual relationship she develops with her uncle.
The play takes a sensitive look at the main character's experience of being sexually abused by her Uncle Peck while he teaches her how to drive. The abuse begins when she is 11 years old and continues until she leaves for college. The story is told in such a way that Peck never comes across as a monster. He’s cast as the only member of the family who cares for Li'l Bit, but that affection manifests itself in the form of abuse.
Bultman, the executive director of the Sumter Little Theatre, says “Vogel's writing approaches difficult topics with a deft delicateness. This is a powerful play, but it is extremely delicate. It is filled with humor, which is quite difficult when dealing with a subject like sexual abuse."
Freshman theatre major Grace Ann Roberts is cast in the role of L'il Bit. Don Russell, a master of fine arts candidate will take on the role of Uncle Peck. Rounding out the small cast is a "Greek chorus" commenting on the action. The chorus members are played by senior theatre major Chandler Walpole, freshman theatre major Jamie Boller and sophomore media arts major Grace Fennell. Sophomore business and marketing major Katie Cole is stage manager for the production.
"With this play, these young actors are required to go places psychologically that they've never been before and it's not easy," Bultman says. "I understand that and respect them so much for taking the journey with me."
Show times for the production each night are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Lab Theatre, the university’s “black box” performance space, is located in the Booker T. Washington building at 1400 Wheat St., across from Blatt PE Center.
“How I Learned to Drive”contains adult themes which may not be suitable for children.