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Troves

 

THE BALTIMORE WALTZ

by Paula Vogel

 

At Arlene Bujese Gallery in East Hampton, NY

1995

 

Directed and Designed by Maria Pessino

 

ABOUT THE PLAY

The Baltimore Waltz is a play by Paula Vogel. Essentially a series of comic vignettes underlined by tragedy, the farce traces the European odyssey of sister and brother Anna and Carl, in search of hedonistic pleasure and a cure for her terminal illness, the fictitious ATD (Acquired Toilet Disease) she contracted by using the bathrooms at the elementary school where she teaches.

Knowing her life is nearing its end, Anna is driven by a lust that compels her to have casual sex with as many men as possible during their travels, a passion shared by her gay brother. Assisting the pair is the mysterious Third Man, a reference to the classic suspense film starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, to which Vogel frequently alludes in detail.

The play was Vogel's response to the 1988 death of her brother Carl, who died from complications due to AIDS before they were able to enjoy a long planned European vacation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A productive playwright since the late 1970s, Vogel first came to national prominence with her AIDS-related seriocomedy The Baltimore Waltz, which won the Obie award for Best Play in 1992. She is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning play How I Learned To Drive (1997), which examines the impact and echoes of child sexual abuse and incest. Other notable plays include Desdemona, A Play About A Handkerchief (1979); The Oldest Profession (1981); And Baby Makes Seven (1984); "Hot 'N Throbbing" (1994); and The Mineola Twins (1996).

Although no particular theme or topic dominates her work, she often examines traditionally controversial issues such as sexual abuse, and prostitution. Asserting that she "writes the play backwards," moving from emotional circumstances and character to craft narrative structure, Vogel says, "My writing isn't actually guided by issues. ... I only write about things that directly impact my life." Vogel's family, especially her late brother Carl Vogel, serves as an influence to her writings. Carl's likeness appears in such plays as The Long Christmas Ride Home (2003), The Baltimore Waltz, and And Baby Makes Seven.

During her two decades leading the graduate playwriting program and new play festival at Brown University, Vogel helped developed a nationally-recognized center for educational theatre, culminating in the creation of the Brown/Trinity Repertory Company Consortium with Oskar Eustis, then Trinity's artistic director, in 2002. She left Brown in 2008 to assume her current posts as adjunct professor and the Chair of the playwriting department at Yale School of Drama, and the Playwright-in-Residence at Yale Repertory Theatre. Vogel previously served as an instructor at Cornell University during her graduate work in the mid-1970s.

Subsequent to her Obie Award for Best Play (1992) and Pulitzer Prize in Drama (1998), Vogel received the Award for Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004.

She won the 1998 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

In 2003, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival created an annual "Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting" for "the best [undergraduate] student-written play that celebrates diversity and encourages tolerance while exploring issues of disempowered voices not traditionally considered mainstream."

 

CAST

Diane Grotke, Lane Luckart and James Walsh

 

CREW

Elisabeth Willoughby – Stage Manager, Lights operator

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