Esplanade Presents

Theatre

How I Learned To Drive

An Esplanade Commission

Written by Paula Vogel (United States)

Directed by Renee Yeong (Singapore)

19 Apr 2024, Fri, 8pm

20 Apr 2024, Sat, 3pm & 8pm

21 Apr 2024, Sun, 3pm

2hrs

(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Theatre Studio

Buy tickets
Renee Yeong (Director)
Paula Vogel (Playwright)
Synopsis

This is a story of a woman who learns the rules of the road and life from behind the wheel: ten years after leaving her childhood home in rural Maryland, Li'l Bit is back and ready to confront the traumas of her past. But how can she begin to heal?

 

Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, How I Learned to Drive follows the story of Li'l Bit, who was sexually abused by her Uncle Peck since she was 11 years old, while in the driver’s seat of a Ford Mustang with her uncle as her driving instructor. Her schoolmates and family were none the wiser—how could friendly neighbourhood Uncle Peck be capable of such a heinous crime?

 

Now, at age 30, Li'l Bit is finally ready to heal—in order to do that, she must revisit some of the key moments in her adolescence that have shaped and changed her, for better and for worse. These moments involve not just Uncle Peck, but also the people around her: schoolmates who bullied and sexualised her for her larger-than-average chest, her aunt, who blamed Li'l Bit for stealing her husband, and the waiter who stood by as Uncle Peck manipulated Li'l Bit to drink while underage.

 

Wildly funny, surprising and ultimately devastating, How I Learned to Drive navigates the minefields of trauma, healing, survival and stolen childhood. It asks not just what happens to victims of abuse—but how society can be complicit in its occurrence.

 

A programme of TRIP—a platform to showcase work by early-career directors. 

 

License managed by Harmonia Holdings, Ltd. under special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Ltd.

 

Director

Renee Yeong

Playwright

Paula Vogel

Cast

Masturah Oli, Andrew Lua, Vester Ng, Tan Rui Shan, Arielle Jasmine Van Zuijlen

Set Designer

Petrina Dawn Tan

Set Assistant

M.Nurfadhli Jasmi

Sound Designer

Guo Ningru

Lighting Designer

James Tan

Costume Designer

Max Tan

Production Manager

Evelyn Chia (The Backstage Affair)

Production Coordinator

Wann Nurul Asyiqin (The Backstage Affair)

Stage Manager

Celestine Wong (The Backstage Affair)

Assistant Stage Manager

Georgia Sim (The Backstage Affair)

Advisory:

R18. Contains references to sexual assault and grooming of minors.

Admission Age:
18 and above.
Language: English
Things to Note:
Accessibility: We provide services and facilities for patrons with access needs. Concessions for persons with disabilities (PWDs) are available for selected shows. Read our accessibility guide.
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Artist Information

Renee Yeong (Director)

Renee Yeong (She/They) is a Singaporean director, trained in New York, based in London, interested in telling contemporary stories about women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalised groups in Singapore, UK, US, and beyond.

 

Their recent directing credits include I am trying to say something true (Esplanade’s TRIP), Lotus Root Support Group (Singapore), I LOVE WHITE MEN (Dixon Place, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, and Caveat NYC), Annie Aspen’s Musical Space Spectacular! (Ars Nova’s ANT Fest), When We Were Young and Unafraid, and Dry Land (Playwrights Horizons Downtown/NYU). 

 

As an assistant director, she has worked with Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin on Bess Wohl’s world premiere play Continuity at Manhattan Theatre Club and Huzir Sulaiman on The Nuclear Family in 2020 for Checkpoint Theatre, up until its postponement.

 

Renee is also big on audio and podcasts and will be releasing their debut audio fiction podcast “SAYANG” with long-time collaborator Nicholas Chan, produced by award-winning Singaporean media firm Andas Productions, in Summer 2024.

 

Apart from being in the inaugural batch of The Studios: TRIP at Esplanade, Renee is also an alumnus of the 2019 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Union. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at New York University in Directing in 2018. 

Paula Vogel (Playwright)

Paula Vogel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose plays include Indecent (Tony Award for Best Play), How I Learned To Drive (Broadway production set for spring 2020; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Lortel Prize, OBIE Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Awards for Best Play), The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot’n’throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, The Oldest Profession and A Civil War Christmas

 

Her plays have been produced in English in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and in translation in Italy, Germany, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, Romania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Canada, Portugal, France, Greece, Japan, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, and many other countries. 

 

John Simon once remarked that Paula Vogel had more awards than a “black sofa collects lint.” Honours include induction in the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lily Award, the Thornton Wilder Prize, the Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the William Inge Award, among many others. She is particularly proud of her Thirtini Award from 13P, and honoured by three Awards in her name: the Paula Vogel Award for playwrights given by The Vineyard Theatre, the Paula Vogel Award from the American College Theatre Festival, and the Paula Vogel mentorship program, curated by Quiara Hudes and Young Playwrights of Philadelphia. 

 

Paula was playwright in residence at The Signature Theatre (2004–05 season), and Theatre Communications Group publishes six volumes of her work. Paula continues her playwriting intensives with community organizations, students, theatre companies, subscribers and writers across the globe. She is the 2019 inaugural UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television Hearst Theater Lab Initiative Distinguished Playwright-in-Residence and has recently taught at Sewanee, Shanghai Theatre Academy and Nanjing University, University of Texas at Austin, and the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. From 1984 to 2008, Paula Vogel founded and ran the playwriting program at Brown University; during that time she started a theatre workshop for women in Maximum Security at the Adults Correction Institute in Cranston, Rhode Island. It continues to this day, sponsored by the Pembroke Center for Women at Brown University. From 2008–2012, she was the O’Neill Chair at Yale School of Drama. 

Date & Time

19 Apr 2024, Fri

8pm

Esplanade Theatre Studio

20 Apr 2024, Sat

3pm

Esplanade Theatre Studio

8pm

Esplanade Theatre Studio
There will be a post-show dialogue in English with director, Renee Yeong.

21 Apr 2024, Sun

3pm

Esplanade Theatre Studio
There will be a post-show dialogue in English with director, Renee Yeong.
Tickets & Prices
Standard

Students, NSFs, Seniors & PWDs
(Limited)

Price $32 $24

Esplanade&Me Specials

Early Bird (8 – 14 Feb 2024, limited tickets)
Black: 20% savings
White: 15% savings
Discover: 15% savings (Min. of 2 tickets)

 

From 15 Feb 2024, 10am (Limited tickets)
Black: 15% savings  
White: 10% savings
Discover: 10% savings (Min. of 2 tickets)

 

Applicable to Standard tickets only. Terms and Conditions apply.

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