Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-10-17
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

'Indecent' in Chicago: Paula Vogel talks art, policies and haunting play
by Karen Topham
2018-09-24

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Talking with Paula Vogel is the easiest thing in the world. Her friendly, open demeanor makes it feel like a long, warm conversation with your grandmother—if your grandmother happened to be a prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and a social radical, unabashed feminist, and proud lesbian.

Vogel has written 16 plays in the last 40 years. Her work has been produced in more than 30 countries and received more awards than can be listed here. Following the brilliant Artistic Home production last spring of her Pulitzer-winning How I Learned to Drive, this fall brings two new Vogel plays to Chicago.

The Chicago premiere of Vogel's Indecent is running through Nov. 4 at the Lincoln Park's Victory Gardens Theater. At the same time, the Goodman Theatre is workshopping Vogel's newest creation, Cressida On Top. Despite a packed schedule, Vogel took the time to speak with Windy City Times in a wide-ranging interview.

Beyond The Children's Hour

Indecent is the story of a 1906 play written by a young Polish Jew named Sholem Asch. God of Vengeance proved very successful all over Europe, but when it came to America and was translated into English, authorities didn't take well to its unfettered lesbian content. God of Vengeance was shut down. Its entire cast for indecency. Vogel, 66, first became familiar with the play roughly 40 years ago.

"It just floored me that [Asch], a newlywed man, a heterosexual man, could write such a beautiful love scene between two women," she said. "Up to that point, I was a little depressed and concerned that the Lillian Hellman Children's Hour was going to be the model of theatre and film in which a lesbian commits suicide or a lesbian is eternally alone and unhappy and her lover marries a man and lives happily ever after—that was kind of the model of the 1950s.

"There were not a lot of plays about lesbians," Vogel said, and what plays there were tended fo be about lesbians in primarily unhappy relationships. "I wouldn't call God of Vengeance particularly a happy play, but it basically says that the love between two women is a pure, passionate love," Vogel said.

Variations on a theme

God of Vengeance haunted Vogel for decades. In 2009, she received a phone call from director Rebecca Taichman. "She called and said 'Do you know of this play, God of Vengeance?' and I said 'Oh my God, do I!' As we talked on the phone it started to take shape."

Like all of Vogel's work, Indecent plays with structure and form. "I think the thing that made me start to want to write plays is that it wasn't just paint by numbers and that every person has a story and that story demands a new structure for it, one original to it," she said.

The unique structure of Indecent involves a play-within-a-play and lots of music.Vogel and Taichman came up with the notion of a dead troupe of actors rising from the dust to tell the story of God of Vengeance. From there, they took off, trying variations over multiple drafts and workshops.

The process was a departure for Vogel: For previous plays, she had written in a fury, often finishing them in as little as two weeks.

"I became adept at writing quickly in intense bouts; that's basically how I've written my plays," she said.

Seven years to premieres

Indecent proved more elusive: "It took me seven years to do the research, and then after every four or five drafts, Rebecca would do a reading or put on a workshop; I worked on it a long time. This is a large-scope piece."

Indecent premiered in 2015 in simultaneous productions at Yale Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse.It opened on Broadway in 2017 to positive reviews. ( The Tribune's Chris Jones called it a "deftly structured." ) It won two Tony Awards, and was nominated for three.

"At age 67, this represents the first time that I can actually travel to Chicago and work a little bit with the director and simultaneously work at the Goodman on a new play, so that's pretty exciting for me," Vogel said. "I no longer have an 80-hour-a-week day job that precludes me from traveling."( In addition to playwriting, Vogel served for years as a department chair at the Yale School of Drama and oversaw the playwriting department at Brown University. )

Letting go, leaning in

Now, Vogel says she's excited to see how director Gary Griffin will interpret Indecent at the Victory Gardens.

"Gary and I had a wonderful 24 hours together on Cape Cod exploring his ideas, talking about the play," Vogel said. "He showed me the costume design, the set design. It's never been done this way before. Every production is radically different; it's really a director's vision. When you're doing a premiere it's a conversation and I'm in the room making adjustments."

Letting go of her creation doesn't bother Vogel.

"It's an honor, it's a thrill to see other people's' visions. If one is a control freak one, writes novels. But if one enjoys the party and the conversation, you basically become a playwright.

"As of opening night, the playwright starts to say goodbye. We're the first ones to leave the party, and there's always a kind of mourning, but it's very rewarding to know that [the play] has future lives," she said.

Many of Vogel's plays have dealt with LGBTQ+ issues. Indecent does as well, but also brings in issues of censorship, immigration, and anti-Semitism.

Human sexuality, human rights

For Vogel, LGBTQ+ issues can't be written about in a vacuum.

"If there is anything I am ardent about concerning my sexuality, it is to not see our issues as separate from issues concerning people of color ( or ) economic issues, inequality, drinking water in Flint, suppression of the press, separation of families at the border," she said.

"There is a divide-by-fear mentality and we have to be united; we have to embrace a coalition. So the only thing I worry about at times is if younger people say 'I can get married now and OK I'm done.' Like that's the end of the conversation. That's the beginning of the conversation.

"It's not about our rights as gay, lesbian, trans, bi, queers; it's about our rights as Americans; it's about human rights."

At its core, like its author, Indecent is political. "I wrote Indecent aware of the rise in hate speech, aware of the bashing of immigration, deeply deeply concerned, and I thought there is an important reason to write this because this happened in our history. In a moment of fear there is no history; there's just fear about the future and the present moment and history becomes completely erased."

Indecent runs through Nov. 4 at the Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $29—$74. For more info, go tohttps://victorygardens.org/event/indecent/

Note: This is the first of a two-part look at Paula Vogel and the production Indecent. Next week, Topham and Vogel talk LGBTQ issues, theatrical form and the need for theater in today's political environment.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Lesbian CEO takes reins at New Thought Channel 2018-10-22 - At New Thought Channel, Paula Langguth Ryan serves as the chief financial officer, chief operating officer, marketing director and promotions manager. Now, has ...


Gay News

Tamale Sepp starts a new chapter 2018-10-17 - Internationally renowned comedian and interdisciplinary performer Tamale Sepp has relocated to the East Coast after serving up 16 years of comedy, performance art, ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2018 Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot unveils LGBTQ policy framework 2018-10-17 - On Oct. 11, which was National Coming Out Day, Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot unveiled her LGBTQ policy framework at a roundtable discussion ...


Gay News

Rock 'N' Roll 2018-10-17 - Playwright: Tom Stoppard At: The Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand Ave., Tickets: 866-811-4111; TheArtisticHome.org; $34. Runs through: Nov. 18 This is a ...


Gay News

WaistWatchers The Musical 2018-10-17 - Playwright: Alan Jacobsen and Vince Dimura At: Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. Tickets: 312-988-9000 or TheRoyalGeorgeTheatre.com; $45-65. Runs through: Dec. 30 ...


Gay News

Flyin' West 2018-10-17 - Playwright: Pearl Cleage At: American Blues Theater, Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-654-3103; AmericanBluesTheater.com; $19-$39. Runs through: Nov. 3 ...


Gay News


A Shire calling: Gay comedian moves from Chicagoland to LA 2018-10-17 - People often have to make big changes in their lives to order to find success. This is no different with Kyle Shire—a ...


Gay News

Eclipsed 2018-10-17 - Playwright: Danai Gurira At Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. Tickets: $18-30; PegasusTheatreChicago.org. Runs through: Nov. 4 "How you gonna ...


Gay News

Crumbs From the Table of Joy 2018-10-17 - Playwright Lynn Nottage At Raven Theatre, 6157 N Clark St. Tickets: 773-338-2177 or RavenTheatre.com; $15-46. Runs through Nov. 18 Like ...


Gay News

Fun Harmless Warmachine 2018-10-17 - By Fin Coe At Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: 773-697-3830 or TheNewColony.org; $10-20. Runs through: Nov. 4 The New ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.