How I Learned to Drive is a play written by American playwright Paula Vogel. The play premiered on 16 March 1997 off-broadway at the Vineyard Theatre. Vogel received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work.
The story follows the strained, sexual relationship between Li'l Bit and her aunt's husband, Uncle Peck, from her adolescence through her teenage years into college and beyond. Using the metaphor of driving and the issues of pedophilia, incest, and misogyny, the play explores the ideas of control and manipulation.
When Li'l Bit is eleven, Uncle Peck gives her a driving lesson; however, he uses the opportunity to molest her. Li'l Bit is too young to understand the occurrence, and while her mother and aunt suspect that Peck has an unhealthy interest in his niece, they do nothing about it. Years pass and Li'l Bit enters puberty. Though she is quite intelligent, her classmates recognize her only for her large breast size. Peck continues to molest her, at one point using his amateur photo studio to take provocative pictures of her. Though he makes her uncomfortable, Peck is the only member of her family who is nice to her and supportive of her plans to go to college. He continues to give Li'l Bit driving lessons, and when she drives she develops a feeling of control that she does not have in her home life.
Peck attempts to convince Li'l Bit to have sex with him, but Li'l Bit rejects his advances, albeit reluctantly; since they are both "outsiders" in their family, she feels an odd kinship with him. Li'l Bit goes to college, and is surprised to receive gifts from Uncle Peck in the mail, along with letters counting down to her eighteenth birthday. When she turns eighteen, she confronts Uncle Peck; he has been hoping to finally have sex with her now that she is a legal adult, but more than that, he wants her to marry him. Li'l Bit refuses and permanently severs their relationship. Narrating as an adult, Li'l Bit reveals that she was eventually expelled from college and that Uncle Peck drank himself to death. However, looking back on her experiences, she has learned to forgive Peck for his wrongdoings. She concludes that he did give her something valuable: the freedom she feels only when she drives.
ethan atkins Greek chorus leader The Vineyard Theatre production, in association with Daryl Roth and Roy Gabay, moved to the Century Theatre in April, 1997. The Male Greek Chorus was played by Christopher Duva.
A 2007 Production at The Playground in Duluth, Minnesota directed by Molly O'Neill. Starring; Li'l Bit- Cheryl Skafte Uncle Peck- Mark Smith Male Greek Chorus- Keith Shelbourne Female Greek Chorus- Carolyn Dick Teenage Greek Chorus- Cassandra Proball
L.A. Theatre Works has produced an audio performance of the play, starring Glenne Headly, Randall Arney, Joy Gregory, Paul Mercier, and Rondi Reed. Published on CD, ISBN 1-58081-188-4.