Stage Center Theatre 2012-2013 Season
Main Stage Production

How I learned to Drive
by Paula Vogel
Directed by Angela Sweigart-Gallagher

during the Spring Semester, 2013

Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, How I Learned to Drive has become a postmodern classic.  The play is the funny, yet heartbreaking tale of one woman’s ability to survive her turbulent adolescence in the late 1960s.  How I Learned to Drive tackles Lil Bit’s troubling relationship with her Uncle Peck told through the rearview mirror of adulthood.  Through a series of flashbacks and vignettes, Lil Bit examines her formative years, revealing the life lessons learned while learning to drive in her Uncle Peck’s Buick Riviera.  Paula Vogel’s haunting play explores the power of memory, forgiveness, and the feeling of freedom gained behind the wheel.

Director's Notes_______________________________

"My play dramatizes the gifts we receive from the people who hurt us."
—Paula Vogel, Interview with Arthur Holmberg, 1998

We all make it to adulthood profoundly shaped by the traumas we experience in childhood and adolescence.  Most of us are fortunate in that these traumas are relatively small, others of us must find a way to survive more serious wounds.

Paul Vogel's How I Learned to Drive is a challenging story of one such survival. Sadly and shamefully, Lil Bit's story is more commonplace than we want to acknowledge, and she recounts her memories of her childhood in a way that makes sense to her, but which is, at times, disorienting and difficult for us.

We watch as she shifts through the memories and traumas of her childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.  We watch as she orders and takes control of those memories, sharing the lessons she's learned, and the gifts she's received from someone who hurt her—quite deeply.

It is with great pleasure that my directorial debut at Northeastern Illinois University is Paul Vogel's Pulitzer Prize winning play How I Learned to Drive.  It is deeply complex and working with the actors and production team to bring it to life has been a richly rewarding experience.

Thank you,
Angela Sweigart-Gallagher

Jill Matel (Lil Bit) is thrilled to be returning to the stage for this production! Fun fact: Jill failed her driver's test 3 times before finally passing in a snow storm. She had an accident on her 2nd attempt.  She is currently finishing her CMT degree at NEIU and has performed several times at Stage Center. A choreographer as well, Jill has performed extensively in the Milwaukee and Chicago theater communities. Thanks to a fabulous cast and crew, Angie and RJ for his all support. LU!

Mark Dodge (Uncle Peck) Mark and Stage Center Theater: Like chocolate and peanut butter, they belong together. Smuggled out of New Jersey in a gypsy's steamer trunk, he wound up in Chicago and earned academic honors at Columbia College. He founded Fury Theatre where he's Artistic Director and #1 coffee drinker. Recent performances include Oberon (Fury), Hyde #3 (N.E.I.U.) and Bullshot Crummond (Jack Benny Center). He's a writer and director and recently did one or both to Fury's first three young performer series plays: Hamlet and Eggs, Professor Evil's Bedtime Stories for Zombies! and Romeo & Juliet. This summer he'll be directing Much Ado About Nothing in the park. His girlfriend Arin will be playing Beatrice. And now you know the rest of the story. Good day!

Elizabeth Krahulec (Female Greek Chorus) will be graduating May 2013 with her BA in Communication, Media and Theatre.  Previous credits include Gertie in Fuddy Meers, Arsinoe in The Misanthrope and Hyde 4/Poole in Jekyll and Hyde.  She'd like to thank the cast; Angie for the opportunity and skillful direction; the crew for their hard work, especially Nickolena; Cyndi and Tony for their support, enthusiasm and general awesomeness; B. Edward Malley; Lily (her cohort); Michael, Sarah and Brad (FFL); Lisa, Dan, Rodney, and Ann; Luke, Lizz, John, and Jana; everyone involved with CMT and Stage Center for being the highlights of her life these past two years.  She will miss you all.

Patryk Szwankowski (Male Greek Chorus) is currently enrolled at NEIU as a Communication, Media and Theatre major. He is very excited to be working alongside such talented actors and hard working crew. He has previously been seen at Stage Center Theatre as "Pleusicles" in The Braggart Soldier, "Don/Artillery Trainee" in Censored on Final Approach as well as many other shows. Always one to show off his wild side, you can always try to freestyle battle him after the shows. He would like to thank his amazing family and crazy/awesome friends for all their support. LWI!

Elizabeth Barnett (Teenage Greek Chorus) is very excited to be performing in her first show while attending Northeastern! She is currently a freshman at NEIU as a CMT major. Lizzy played the character of Mrs. Brady in Inherit the Wind, a Bird Girl in Seussical the Musical, Alice in Alice in Wonderland, and Tessie in Annie. She would like to thank her family and friends for supporting her during this unforgettable experience.

Artistic Staff______________
Angela (Angie) Sweigart-Gallagher (Director) is an Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre.  Previous directing credits include Medea, Night, Mother, and a the debut production of Shelter. She made her acting debut at Stage Center this semester when she appeared as Dr. Tomb in Dr Womb and Dr. Tomb's Wandering Ward of Cures, Correctives, and Creams for All that Ails and Avails the Utilitarian and Utterly Unreliable Uterus as part of her work with THE WANDERING UTERUS PROJECT, a multimedia performance project focused on women's reproductive health and rights. Her research focuses on the intersections of politics and performance.  She’s currently editing a volume of essays examining youth and nationalism in theatre and performance, and has an article on the youth performances at Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Protests forthcoming in Youth Theatre Journal. Her scholarly writing has appeared in SETC’s Theatre Symposium and The Journal of American Drama and Theatre. Angie is the Education Director of Endstation Theatre Company, (Amherst, VA), where she spends her summers overseeing college level interns and working with high school students at an interdisciplinary arts camp. She earned her MA and PhD in Theatre Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her BA in Theatre and English from Mary Washington College, (now the University of Mary Washington), in Fredericksburg, VA.

Nickolena Sellen (Assistant Director) is a CMT major here at NEIU. Some of the projects she has worked on here at NEIU were Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, Censored on Final Approach, Fuddy Meers, and Twelfth Night. She's very excited to be involved in How I Learned to Drive and hopes you enjoy the show.

Dane A. Campbell (Stage Manager) is a senior at NEIU, looking forward to graduating this spring. Past credits include the Scarecrow in The Wiz, Billy Flinn in Chicago and  Raheim in Apologies From One Sista to Anotha. He has written two screenplays: To Die For and Underseige, and has stage managed over ten theatrical dance productions. His dance work has been seen on America's Best Dance Crew and his most well-received silver screen performance was in the film April Fool's. He founded the Full Effect Entertainment Theatrical Dance Company, a Chicago based concert dance ensemble.

Amanda Cervantes (Assistant Stage Manager) is currently a senior at NEIU and CMT major.  Being a part of this production has been a wonderful experience for her.  She has thoroughly enjoyed working with the cast and crew and looks forward to possibly stage managing more shows after she graduates in May.  Theater has always been a part of her life and she is grateful she was able to be a part of How I Learned to Drive.  Amanda would like to thank Angie and the cast for making her last semester here a great one!

Demitra Yao (Assistant Stage Manager) is so excited to be part of this production. She’s a CMT major at NEIU, has been involved with theatre for years and plans on having theatre a part of her life in the future! Thank you Angie and the cast for a great experience! 

Luke Sword (Sound Designer) Through the years, Luke has shifted away from acting in order to work behind the scenes. He interned with the Raven Theater on the running crew and working as videographer for the children’s summer camp. Most recently, he has designed sound for NEIU shows including Fuddy Meers, Censored on Final Approach and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. This will be Luke’s final show as sound designer as he transitions into creating sound for The Raven, starting this summer.

John Rodriguez (Lighting Designer)  joined the theatre faculty at NEIU nine years ago and has been teaching courses in technical theatre as well as working as a designer on Stage Center Theatre productions. Most recent designs include Around the World in Eighty Days, Bleacher Bums, Odd Couple, A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as Thymely Theatre’s productions of You Can’t Take It With You and As You Like It.

Lizz Otto-Cramer (Scenic Designer) is happy to be making her return to NEIU after a 5 year hiatus. A graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Lizz has designed, painted, and created props for numerous theatres throughout the nation, including the Kennedy Center and Universal Studios Hollywood. She greatly enjoys working with her students and fellow faculty at NEIU, and is excited to be teaching again.

Dan Gallagher (Projections Designer) In addition to his projection work, Dan has worked as a lighting designer for On The Square Productions, The Cell, MTWorks, AMDA, Flamenco Vivo and Boo Arts in NYC.  He is the resident designer for Endstation Theatre’s Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival in Virginia.  He was the 2005 Gilbert Hemsley Lighting assistant at Lincoln Center, where he worked for NYC Opera, NYC Ballet, the Lincoln Center Festival, Julliard, Live From Lincoln Center and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Dan has taught lighting design at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he received his MFA.  He has been a guest artist at Connecticut College, Arizona State University, Daytona State College and Lock Haven University. Dan is a member of United Scenic Artists 829.

Jana Anderson (Costume Designer) has worked with the Stage Center Theatre for the last few years. Her work has also been featured by numerous theatre groups including Redmoon Theatre, Light Opera Works, Irish Repertory Theatre, just to name a few.Prior to coming to the United States, Jana created elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. When she’snot preparing costumes for theatre productions, Jana is busy designing and creating unique haute couture fashions for individual clients in the US and Europe.

Production Staff______________
Producer............................Rodney Higginbotham
Director......................Angela Sweigart-Gallagher
Assistant Director.......................Nickolena Sellen
Stage Manager..........................Dane A. Campbell
Assistant Stage Manager........Amanda Cervantes
Assistant Stage Manager...................Demitra Yao
Scenic Designer........................Lizz Otto-Cramer
Costume Designer..........................Jana Anderson
Lighting Designer.........................John Rodriguez
Sound Designer...................................Luke Sword
Costume Mistress.............................Maria Barajas
Projections Designer......................Dan Gallagher
Choreographer.........................Dane A. Campbell
Voice Over................................Dane A. Campbell
Light Board Operator...................Adelina Dimas
Sound Board Operator..................Scott  Plunkett
Set Construction......................Theatre Practicum and Stagecraft Classes

Theatre Personel_________________
Managing Artistic Director  Rodney Higginbotham
Theatre Bookkeeper  Kristina Salearelli
Publications & Publicity Staff  Elizabeth Krahulec, Mary Nano, Natalie Mayen and Kelly Gazer
Box Office  Maciej Mardosz and Larisa Bocka

Special Thanks To______________
Dan and Parker Gallagher for their love and support; Vicky Pettersen Lantz for being a sounding board; Rodney Higginbotham and the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre for their generosity and warm welcome.  

How I Learned to Drive is produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc.

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