An Old Play, A New Message

old play

An Old Play, A New Message

The World is changing, slowly and steadily, with many people raising their voices against injustice. A recent addition was the #MeToo movement. It put forth thousands of stories from people, men and women alike, about surviving through non-consensual sexual advances. Apparently, the trauma is deep enough, and it certainly needs recognition. People have started questioning the real face of consent and how it works. Parents are talking to their children about this; teachers are educating the students. Northeastern University has gone a step further and the students here are organising a play on it.


The play goes by the name, ‘How I Learned to Drive’ and is a Pulitzer Prize winner. It will take place in the Northeastern’s Studio Theatre, directed by Dani Snyder-Young. Consent, power, trauma, and history are the main themes colouring the play as it unfolds. It is a creation of Paula Vogel, an American playwright. The story line shows the complex sexual relationship between Li’l Bit and Peck, who is her uncle. The plot has adopted a narrative format, during which, the adult Li’l Bit talks about her memories. She takes us on her journey through childhood, adolescence, and college, involving her uncle.


“It’s much more relevant now than I necessarily knew it was going to be when I chose it in the spring,” said Snyder-Young, an assistant professor in the Department. “This play asks tough questions about the nature of trauma and relationships”.


Vogel has created complex characters, where you can’t divide them into good or evil. It is symbolic of the fact that relationships “are not just black and white”. The play was originally written in 1997 and is still effective. Keely Craig, playing the character of Li’l Bit, says, “this play is still so relevant today because it’s all about owning your own narrative.”


Claire Warden, an intimacy director, was an important part of the play. Warden helped perfect the scenes with emotional and physical intimacy. The job matches that of a fight choreographer. Warden made sure that the actors were conveying closeness, which was neither too close nor too distant.


“She created a safe environment for us,” Craig mused. “It’s been one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had as an actor. In the play, firstly, there are non-consensual moments. Secondly, there are moments where you’re not quite sure if it’s consensual. Along with it, there are moments where there’s a lot of tension that’s never acted upon. Likewise, building those moments required a lot of nuances. And this had to be handled while still respecting each other’s boundaries as actors.”


Pranjali Wakde

pranjali wakde

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