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Villanova Theatre pushes the envelope with 'HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE'

Pulitzer Prize-winning drama promises twists and turns

How I Learned to Drive

VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova Theatre kicks off the 2012-2013 season with How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel.  This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by one of America’s most daring playwrights shifts backward and forward through time to trace one woman’s engrossing journey from adolescence into adulthood.  In this no-holds-barred look back through the rear-view, Li’l Bit confronts the lessons learned behind the wheel of her uncle's '56 Chevy – lessons most people would be reluctant to share.

Villanova Theatre’s edgy and emotional production, directed by Shawn Kairschner, promises to push buttons and pull heartstrings as it wrestles with controversial issues including abuse and adolescent sexuality.   At once chilling and wildly funny, How I Learned to Drive is “genuine and genuinely disturbing” (The Village Voice).  Vogel’s widely-acclaimed “memory play” is a story about family, love, trauma, and forgiveness.  In the words of the playwright herself, Li’l Bit’s story is complex, but ultimately, it is a tale of triumph.  “It’s about how we turn the wounds we receive into gifts, how they can give us strength.”

According to Kairschner, “the piece is shockingly honest, clear-eyed, and compassionate.  Vogel takes us on a ride that we wouldn’t ordinarily take, and the world that she shows us is complex.  Nothing is ever black or white; everything is very ‘gray.’ And, ultimately, Vogel leaves it up to the audience to decide how they feel about the ride they have just taken.”  Villanova Theatre brings Vogel’s world to life with the support of an award-winning creative team: John Raley (Scenic Design), Charlotte Cloe Fox Wind (Costume Design), Jerold Forsyth (Lighting Design), John Stovicek (Sound Design), and Andrew Cameron Zahn (Video Design).

Kairschner directs a powerhouse cast of versatile and experienced young actors.  In the central role, first-year graduate assistant Victoria Bonito plays Li’l Bit at various stages in her life, from age 11 to 35. Second-year acting scholar Ahren Potratz has the challenge of playing the charming and capricious Uncle Peck.  A modern Greek Chorus – comprised of second year acting scholar Jen Jaynes, second-year graduate assistant Lizzy Pecora, and first-year graduate assistant Seth Schmitt-Hall – represents Li’l Bit’s mother, aunt, grandparents, schoolmates, onlookers, and lovers.

How I Learned to Drive takes the stage at Villanova Theatre from September 25-October 7, 2012 with press opening on Wednesday, September 26th.  Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in Vasey Hall (at Lancaster & Ithan Ave.). Performances will be held Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12 -5 p.m.) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at

About Villanova Theatre:The Villanova University Theatre Department came into being in 1958 under the leadership of Dr. Dick Duprey.  Today, Villanova’s Department of Theatre offers both a Master of Arts degree and a Graduate Certificate in Practical Theatre.  Students enrolled in the theatre program undergo a course of study that combines both scholarly and practical approaches to theatre.  Guided by award-winning faculty and staff who are actively involved in the region’s professional theatre industry, students gain knowledge and experience through hands-on production work and in-depth academic study in the areas of dramaturgy, script analysis, dramatic literature, playwriting, acting, and directing.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.