Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Paula Vogel talks newest work, hope, political exorcisms
Second in a two-part feature on playwright Paula Vogel
by Karen Topham
2018-10-03

This article shared 780 times since Wed Oct 3, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel is angry.

"We're in a terrible place in this country," she said. "I'm really happy that I get to make at least a little contribution, and spend my nights and days thinking about forming community—because that's what theater-making is," she said. "[Theater is] about making something where people come in as individuals but leave feeling part of the audience. Hopefully the conversation goes on past the conversation in the lobby."

The conversation Vogel is focused on at present is the one sparked by Cressida on Top, making its world premiere Saturday, Oct. 6 in a staged reading at the Goodman Theatre. The piece has ancient roots and contemporary relevance. "[Cressida] is my channeling the Don Juan story, and looking at women in the military in the future, and what happens if we continue down this road with a pseudo-President in the White House. It's a funny, dark comedy," Vogel said. "I just want not to be alone in feeling these things," she added.

Vogel's feelings run deep, but she senses something positive happening in the country today.

"I'm hoping that the #metoo movement is transformational, I really am. I'm hoping that the Donald Trump presidency becomes transformational and that [although] we are experiencing this uptick in racism and hideous treatment of immigrants, women and children, we [also] experience a turning point," she said.

Vogel has been dramatizing social issues—honing in on LGBTQ+ issues in particular—for decades. The Long Christmas Ride Home [2003] and The Baltimore Waltz [1990], both deal with her brother Carl, who died of AIDs in 1988. Indecent [running through Nov. 4 the Victory Gardens Theater] is about a 1923 play viciously censored because of its lesbian love story.

All of her plays reflect Vogel's belief that being a playwright means being an agent of social change. "I think as an artist you're always saying why didn't I go to law school? Why didn't I do something more politically aware with my life? But at a crisis time like this I feel at least the ability to express some of the anger and fear and resolution," she said.

At 66, Vogel is now an elder stateswoman as well as a revolutionary.

"When I was a kid I used to sneak into the butch femme bars in Washington, D.C., and it was just thrilling: all of these older women who, if they saw me, would say, 'oh honey go back home.' "

Perspectives on identity and orientation has changed over the years, she said. Where there was once a rigid binary, there is now "there is all of this flux in terms of what sexual identity means. I think of even heterosexuality now as a spectrum," she said.

"I think of queerness as a perspective; I think of it as teaching me that identity is always fluid, that there is constant change and flux," she said.

"It's impossible not to be aware of this at least on a subliminal level," Vogel said. "Even in the smallest town or the reddest state, people [are] aware—otherwise we would not be having so much of a backlash. [F]ear has divided us. The ability to redefine what gender is has created this fear.

"Still, there is an even greater fluidity in gender now and that is pretty thrilling," she said.

Fluidity is a watchword for Vogel's style as a playwright. All of Vogel's play's have different structures or forms. People don't live inside a tidy "beginning-middle-end" structure and neither do Vogel's characters.

"I try to have a different plot structure for every play I write," Vogel said. "A beginning middle and end doesn't begin to encapsulate how we feel when we age, how we process our dreams in the morning, how we remember things."

Using a beginning-middle-end format can "really restrict the way people tell their stories. [T]here are so many more ways to play with form and time together with an audience," she said. The Baltimore Waltz, for example, tells the story of her brother's death through a fictional series of semi-connected scenes set during a tour of Europe. The Long Christmas Ride Home tells its story with puppetry and scenes that move forward and backward in time. Indecent is told by a troupe of dead players putting on a play-within-a-play. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive [premiered in 1997] uses driving lessons as a glue to hold together a series of monologues and scenes that tell the story of a young girl who is molested by her uncle.

Their structures differ, but Vogel begins every new play with the same questions: "How do we tell this story? How is this story different from any other story? How do we feel together in the room as an audience traveling through a different kind of time?

"Each and every time I write I go through the cold sweat: 'How do I write a play I've never written before? How do I tear up everything I've ever done and go a far out there as I can and fall on my face?'" she said.

"If you tell stories in new ways, they have a better chance of breaking through the old ways of seeing. We stop seeing the problems in front of us because they are continual. So how do I make someone stop and see something that is right in front of their face? If you tell me the story in a way that you've always told me the story, with a beginning, middle and end, I might not remember that story," she said.

How I Learned to Drive is extremely memorable, but it's also a source fo frustration for Vogel. "If anyone had told me that it would be more pertinent now than when I wrote it. ... I don't know what [my] younger self would feel like. We should not still be in this time of continual assault," she said.

But despite the present turmoil, Vogel looks to the future with positivity.

"In my 60s, I believe that it's necessary to have resilience and resolve," Vogel said. "It's necessary to hope."

Cressida on Top will get a staged reading at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Goodman Theatre, 170. N. Dearborn St. For ticket info, go to www.goodmantheatre.org, Indecent continues through Nov. 4 at the Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.; visit victorygardens.org .


This article shared 780 times since Wed Oct 3, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Dozens of celebrities, companies set to take part in Spirit Day on Oct. 21
2021-10-15
--From a press release - New York, NY, Thursday, October 14, 2021 - Today, GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, announced a preliminary list of celebrities, shows ...


Gay News

MUSICALS 'Pretty Woman' tickets go on sale Oct. 15
2021-10-15
After a pre-Broadway run in Chicago and being on Broadway, Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on one of Hollywood's most beloved romantic stories of all time, returns to Chicago. The production will run at the CIBC ...


Gay News

THEATER Broken Nose presenting looter drama 'Primer' Nov. 15-Dec. 5
2021-10-15
Broken Nose Theatre, a pay-what-you-can theater company, will run the world premiere audio drama Primer, described in a release as "a deeply honest look at the prioritization of property over people. Ensemble member Spenser Davis wrote ...


Gay News

LGBTQ History Month: Pauli Murray, architect of history
2021-10-13
By Victoria A. Brownworth - (Note: The pronouns she/her are used in keeping with Murray's own writings, but Murray was a transmasculine and gender-nonconforming lesbian.) Some say Pauli Murray is the most important U.S. activist many have never heard of. An ...


Gay News

MUSIC Janis Ian's last Chicago concert May 14
2021-10-13
In what is being advertised as her last concert in Chicago, LGBTQ singer Janis Ian will be performing at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets ($48-$50) will ...


Gay News

THEATER 'A Rocky Horror Picture Party' at The Den on Oct. 30-31
2021-10-12
Haven is presenting Science Fiction / Double Feature: A Rocky Horror Picture Party—an immersive Halloween experience that brings to life in vivid technicolor the world of the cult-classic film—directed by ...


Gay News

THEATER Rivendell's '8:46' to run Oct. 21-23, stream Nov. 1
2021-10-12
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE)—Chicago's only Equity theater dedicated to producing new work with women at the core—announced 8:46 (Breathing Room), a new play festival of four commissioned plays each eight ...


Gay News

President Biden appoints Debra Shore to key EPA position
2021-10-12
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Today President Joe Biden appointed former LGBTQ Victory Institute board chair Debra Shore to be the next Region Five Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency — representing six states in the Midwest and ...


Gay News

COMEDY Janeane Garofalo at The Den Theatre on Nov. 19-20
2021-10-12
The Den Theatre will present comedian Janeane Garofalo for four performances on Nov. 19-20 (at 7 and 9:30 p.m. each night) on The Heath Mainstage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Garofalo has had many memorable and critically ...


Gay News

DRAG Utica Queen finds a home in Chicago
2021-10-12
Ethan Mundt rose to fame as Utica Queen in season 13 of the Emmy-winning show RuPaul's Drag Race. Ultimately placing sixth in the competition, this young, gay 25-year-old showed creativity and personality. Mundt's latest project, Homecoming ...


Gay News

Donations needed for LGBTQ+-affirming spiritual leader's recovery
2021-10-12
In July, Sofia G. Sarabia—an activist and community leader who provided spiritual counseling to LGBTQ+ youth and undocumented immigrants—suffered an unexpected stroke that injured her brain and left her immobile and unable to speak or eat. ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' running through Nov. 6
2021-10-12
Black Button Eyes Productions is welcoming back live audiences with the popular internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog—an authorized fan production to benefit the Chicago charity Season of Concern—playing through ...


Gay News

Achy Obejas' bilingual poetry book Boomerang/Bumeran explores immigration, liberation
2021-10-11
By Max Lubbers - Achy Obejas is a Cuban-American writer, translator and activist. Boomerang/Bumerán, her newest book, confronts questions of immigration, love and liberation. Like a boomerang, these ideas return throughout the collection, even ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race' winners, Playboy, punk band, The Dinah, Daniel Craig
2021-10-10
Video below - As part of VH1's #LGBTQHerstoryMonth project, five winners from the RuPaul's Drag Race winner's circle—season one's BeBe Zahara Benet, All Stars 4 winner Monet X Change, season 11 winner Yvie Oddly, season 12 victor Jaida Essence ...


Gay News

WORLD Japan politics, video games, lesbian tennis player, Mr. Gay World
2021-10-10
LGBTQ+-rights activists were hoping Japan would finally allow same-sex marriage if Taro Kono, who has publicly supported same-sex marriage, became the country's next prime minister—but their hopes were dashed. Japan's ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.