NABOKV-L post 0010532, Sat, 6 Nov 2004 14:09:23 -0800

Fwd: Vladimir Nabokov's notorious 1955 novel "Lolita" ...
EDNOTE. I am surprized to learn that Vogel's play was inspired by LOLITA. Never
crossed my mind when I saw it.

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Date: Sat, 06 Nov 2004 08:46:03 -0500
From: "Sandy P. Klein" <>,1413,295~30179~2515763,00.html[1]#
Rite of passage: Forgiveness, United States - 22 hours ago

... Vogel wrote the play, which premiered at New York City's Vineyard
Theatre in 1997, as a reaction to VLADIMIR NABOKOV\'S notorious 1955
novel "Lolita" and the ... [2] Rite of passage: Forgiveness


By Richard Bammer/Features Writer

In her play about child sex abuse, "How I Learned to Drive," Paula
Vogel speaks the unspeakable and you sometimes laugh, even though the
creepy subject matter horrifies you.

"It's not a comedy, but it functions as a comedy - it's a
tragi-comedy," says Barbara Norris of Fairfield, who directs a
version of the playwright's 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner, opening
Thursday in Fairfield's Missouri Street Theater.

Norris - who previously directed Vogel's piece in 2001 as part of a
master's degree program at Sacramento State University - notes that
the playwright believes the play is about "the gifts we receive from
the people who harm us."

She said the female lead eventually learns how to survive as an
adult, looking back at abuse - molestation by her beloved Uncle Peck
(Johnathan Wright) - and coming to grips with her life.

Vogel wrote the play, which premiered at New York City's Vineyard
Theatre in 1997, as a reaction to Vladimir Nabokov's notorious 1955
novel "Lolita" and the 1962 film based on it.

"It's a look at the molestation from the little girl's attitude,"
notes Norris, who is known in Solano County theater circles for
interestingly off-beat shows.

In the course of a no-intermission 90 minutes, the girl, L'il Bit,
played by Gina Falchetta of Vacaville, recalls the genesis of the
abuse, which began at age 11. The molestation continued in her
preteen years and into her teenage years, a relationship that lasted
for seven years. It is a coming-of-age story, set in the 1960s and
'70s, defined by driving lessons by Uncle Peck.

Of Peck, Norris says, "He's a likable, lovable man; he's not a
monster, but he has this monstrous quality about him in that he's a
pedophile. He's kind to her and he's kind to his family. It's hard
for people to accept that - pedophiles don't look like monsters."

And, thus, sometimes people regard sexual predation of minors as
"this black-and-white issue," but it's more complex - at least as
Vogel sees it - says Norris.

"This little girl loves this man," she says. "And she notes that sex
feels good, even though it's confusing." However, eventually the guilt
becomes nearly unbearable for the young girl, who feels complicit in
the sexual abuse.

"That's what many abuse victims feel," notes Norris. " 'I enjoyed
it, therefore, I'm guilty.' But she's not complicit - she's 11 years

The gist of the play's themes includes forgiveness and
reconciliation, according to Norris. L'il Bit doesn't begin to
process what has happened until she finds a way to forgive not only
Peck but also - and most importantly - herself.

Vogel's drama has not been welcome everywhere it plays, notes
Norris. Some critics believe Vogel wrote a facile script that puts a
feel-good gloss on child abuse.

"It caused a lot of criticism," Norris says of the play's premiere.

But, she adds, Vogel's use of comedy, candor and wit lighten the
horrid story in a way that breaks down barriers, "getting us to relax
to drive the message home."

"It puts us off our guard," says Norris, who directs a cast of five.
"We let our guard down when we laugh, then she can come in with these
more important ideas."

Besides Falchetta and Wright, the cast includes Angelina LaBarre,
Shannon Kase and Steve Gallion.

"How I Learned to Drive" is for mature audiences. Curtain times are
7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
There is no performance Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day.


Solano Repertory Company

Thursday-Nov. 28

Missouri Street

Theater 1125 Missouri St., suite 1000

Fairfield $10-$15 422-1598


Gina Falchetta is L'il Bit and Jonathan Wright is Uncle Peck in "How
I Learned to Drive." (Courtesy photo)


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