Drama School snags Pulitzer winner Vogel

Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning director of the playwriting programs at Brown University, will join the Yale School of Drama under a five-year contract as adjunct Eugene O’Neill Professor and the chair of the Department of Playwriting, the school announced last week.

Vogel — who is known for plays including “How I Learned to Drive” and “The Long Christmas Ride Home” and who has spent the last 24 years in Providence, R.I. — will assume her post in July.

“She’s a magnificent playwright and a master teacher of the first rank,” Drama School Dean James Bundy said in an e-mail to the News. “We’re fortunate she combines artistic and professional distinction with the deepest dedication and generosity to the next generation of writers.”

Vogel, 56, will replace Richard Nelson, the current chair of the Playwriting Department, who will give up teaching at the School of Drama after he finishes his three-year term this spring. Nelson said he is thrilled with Vogel’s appointment.

“Paula Vogel is one of our finest playwrights as well as being the most published and experienced teacher of playwriting we have in this country,” Nelson said in an e-mail. “I am excited for the students.”

Vogel has spent most of her teaching career at Brown, where she currently serves as the Director of MFA and Undergraduate Playwriting programs and is the Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Creative Writing. She has also taught courses in women’s studies and theatre arts at Cornell University.

In 1998, Vogel won the Pulitzer Prize for “How I Learned to Drive,” an original play that tackles issues of sexuality and relationships in American life.

Vogel said she is excited for the opportunity to advocate for contemporary playwriting, both at Yale and on a national stage.

“I bring [to Yale] my ardent conviction that theatre remains essential, a spiritual daily bread, for all of us in this country,” she said in an e-mail to the News.

Students in the Playwriting Department said they are eager for Vogel to join the faculty. Matthew Moses DRA ’09 said he has been a devout fan of Vogel’s since he saw “How I Learned to Drive” at the Vineyard Theatre in New York as a senior in high school.

“[Vogel’s work] is very diverse — an admirable trait in a writer, and certainly a quality you’d want in the chair of a writing program,” Moses said in an e-mail.

Bryce Pinkham DRA ’08, who is not enrolled in the Acting Department, said Vogel’s hiring is “huge for the school” and he wants her to bridge the gap between disparate realms of study.

“My hope is that she can help to try and bring the playwriting, acting, directing and dramaturgy departments into position of closer collaboration,” he said. “We tend to operate in what sometimes feels like separate creative spheres.”

As a full-time School of Drama professor, Vogel will teach the typical load of two courses a semester, Bundy said. Vogel graduated with a B.A. from the Catholic University of America in 1974 and received her M.A. from Cornell in 1977.

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