News Releases

Ithaca College Brings Pulitzer Prize Winning Play to Dillingham Center with 'How I Learned To Drive'

ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College Theatre will wrap up the calendar year with Paula Vogel’s drama, “How I Learned to Drive.” The show is directed by Wendy Dann and tells the story of Lil’ Bit as she unfolds the secrets of her abusive and unsettling childhood. This show is intended for mature audiences and presents challenging themes.

Performance times are 8 p.m. on Nov. 30; Dec. 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 10, with matinees at 2 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 5. All performances will be held in the Clark Theatre in Dillingham Center.

Ticket prices for “How I Learned to Drive” range from $5.50 to $11 and are on sale at all Ticket Center outlets including Ticket Center Ithaca on the Commons or at the Dillingham Center box office. Call (607) 273-4497, (607) 274-3224 or visit Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

Paula Vogel won the Pulitzer Prize for “How I Learned to Drive” in 1998. She wrote the play in response to the controversial novel, “Lolita,” by Vladimir Nabokov, and addresses the subject of child sexual abuse. Director Wendy Dann, assistant professor of theater arts, speaks about the importance of this story as an outlet for this “unspoken” issue. “The statistics are staggering,” says Dann, “One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by the time they reach age 18. In 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the victim knows the perpetrator in some way and 68 percent are abused by family members.”

Since the first day of rehearsals, Dann has made it a point to be honest with the relatively young cast. Resources have been made available for anyone for whom this play has brought up difficult emotions. “Unfortunately, this is a very common story, and victims tend to feel isolated in their experience,” says Dann. “Every day I am surprised and impressed by the cast’s maturity and their willingness to explore these characters with love and honesty.”

This play addresses the horror of childhood sexual abuse in a funny way, giving voice to the thousands of stories gone untold. Dan admires playwright Vogel’s ability to “allow the audience to see and hear the story in a very specific context which feels safe yet uncompromising.” A talkback will be offered after the Wednesday, Dec. 8 evening performance for audience members who would like to engage in a dialogue with mental health professionals about the issues of the drama.

The cast includes Hannah Wenzel ’11 as Lil’ Bit and Daniel Berlingeri ’13 as Uncle Peck.

The designers of “How I Learned to Drive,” include set design by Charlotte Vosseler ’12, costume design by Michelle Roy ’11, sound design by assistant professor of theater arts Don Tindall and lighting design by Tyler Perry ’12.

A nationally recognized professional theatre training program, the Department of Theatre Arts attracts students from across the United States. Throughout the production season, undergraduate students present all aspects of theater in a professional model. Ithaca College Theatre has been an active part of the Tompkins County cultural hub as well as the Finger Lakes region for 70 years.

The Dillingham Center is now newly updated to accommodate all patrons. Individuals with specials needs are asked to contact (607) 274-3224 to request accommodation as soon as possible.