SUNDOWN COLLABORATIVE THEATRE PRESENTS…
How I Learned to Drive
Written by: Paula Vogel
Directed by: Julia Bodiford
December 9th, 10th, 16th, and 17th at 8pm
& December 11th and 18th at 3pm
NCTC Black Box Theatre
318 E, Hickory St.
Denton, TX 76201
**CONTENT AND TRIGGER WARNINGS:
How I Learned To Drive deals with themes of sexual abuse, sexual assault, incest, statutory rape, and manipulation. This show is not appropriate for younger audiences.
Paula Vogel’s groundbreaking and controversial play How I Learned to Drive tells the story of a young girl who grows up in a complex and sexually abusive relationship with her uncle in 1960’s Maryland. The play follows the young girl, Lil’ Bit, from her adolescence through college years and ends with her as a thirty-something adult. Although Lil’ Bit and her uncle share a mutual understanding and care deeply for one another, the years of manipulation eventually drive them apart, leaving Li’l Bit with unresolved questions that she tries to now process as an adult.
Li’l Bit – Taylor Reed
Uncle Peck – Matthew Eitzen
Female Greek Chorus – Kara Bruntz
Male Greek Chorus – Joshua Dobelbower
Teenage Greek Chorus – Courtney Dobelbower
Male Chorus Understudy – Jacob Drum
Director: Julia Bodiford
Stage Manager: Brandy Townsend
Producing Member: Kara Bruntz
Lighting Designer: Ryan Davila
Costume Designer: Birdie Holly
Sundown Collaborative Theatre selected How I Learned To Drive for our 14th season, Pre-Covid. As we all know what happened next and with this being a show that in no way could be performed virtually, we sadly opted to remove it from our season line up. Now here we are in our 15th season. I’ve spent a lot of time thankful that the production was pushed back, because as excited as I was to take on this project I was equally nervous. This play is visceral and aching and vulnerable and healing and hopeful, and it’s a tremendous pressure and privilege to guide a production such as this. I don’t know if there’s ever an exact way to gauge if you’re ready to really immerse yourself in an artistic endeavor such as this, but I feel a lot more capable of understanding this significant story the older I get.
Despite being first produced 26 years ago, How I Learned To Drive remains relevant. What drew me to this piece was the authenticity of these very fully formed characters in very realistic scenarios behaving the way people would behave in real life rather than in a cartoon. When asked about the overarching empathy that washes over How I Learned To Drive, Paula Vogel stated, “My feeling has always been that it is easier to survive and, if you will, defeat predatory behavior from a human being rather than from a monster. And so, to me, the empathy of reducing the uncle in the play to the dimensions of a human being leads to healing for me.”
This is a story about processing trauma, forgiveness, and healing. There will be moments to laugh and cry in this production and I want to encourage you to notice your reactions. I hope you will be able to see through the eyes of each of these characters and find multiple perspectives and stories within this production.
There is no way I could have taken on this project without the support of my cast, crew, and incredible company. This is truly a collaborative effort. I thank my team from the very bottom of my heart for their trust in me and their precious vulnerability.
I’d like to leave you with a Paula Vogel quote that has remained with me during the process of this production. “We constantly go back to a younger and younger age with Li’l Bit. Does it feel okay now that she’s 17? Does it feel it okay now that she’s 16? And so on. I’ve always felt this drama is most compelling when it’s in the gray, not in the black and white.”
Be caring and be gentle with yourself. Thank you.
Taylor Reed (Li’l Bit)
Taylor Reed (she/her) is excited to be back for her second production with Sundown Collaborative Theatre. She was previously seen as Tupolski in The Pillowman. Reed received an MA in Theatre from Texas Woman’s University. Past credits include Lisa in Well, Theresa in Boy Gets Girl, Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, and Cass in Wonder of The World.
Matthew Eitzen (Uncle Peck)
Matthew Eitzen (he/him) is an actor and writer from Dallas, and a graduate of the OU School of Drama. He has performed with various theaters throughought DFW, and has previously performed with Sundown in “She Kills Monsters”. He would like to thank the folks at Sundown for the opportunity to tackle such a significant work, and his family and his roomates for all of their support.
Kara Bruntz (Female Greek Chorus)
Kara Bruntz (she/her) is so excited to be joining Sundown Collaborative Theatre for a second show. She was previously seen in She Kills Monsters as Lilith. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, D&D, and cuddling with her cats, Jiji & Pete’s. She would like to thank her friends and family for their unwavering love and support.
Joshua Dobelbower (Male Greek Chorus)
Joshua Dobelbower (he/him) was born in 1988 — the same year that Die Hard came out. He is excited to be taking part in his fourth Sundown production. Most recently, he conceived of, co-wrote, and co-directed the short film Boo-mates! He also appeared as Simon in Unscripted at Java Scripts: Double Shots and as The Great Mage Steve in She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms. He enjoys collaborating with like-minded individuals and, above all, is looking forward to creating more digital content in the future. Look out for Boo-mates! 2: The Streets!
Courtney Dobelbower (Teen Greek Chorus)
Courtney Dobelbower (she/her) is honored to be a member of this incredible cast. Her recent credits at Sundown include Elaine in Unscripted at Java Scripts: Double Shots and Vera in She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms. She also co-wrote and co-directed the short film Boo-mates! After taking some time off from theatre, she is especially thrilled to be back on stage and expressing herself in the medium she loves.
Jacob Drum (Male Greek Chorus Understudy)
Jacob (he/him) is honored to be part of Sundown’s latest show, having previously been in Love Stories, Short Works Festival, and She Kills Monsters. He knows the entire cast is extremely talented, and that it has been a pleasure to work with them. He hopes everyone enjoys the show!
Julia Bodiford (Director)
Julia Bodiford (she/her) has worked as an actor and director around the DFW Metroplex for around ten years. She serves as Sundown Collaborative Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director and as an intern for Circle Theatre. She holds a BA in Drama from Texas Woman’s University. Her previous Sundown directing credits inclue Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman (2018) and Stephen Mallatratt/Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black (2019). She recently served as Assistant Director for Circle Theatre’s An Empty Plate in the Cafe Du Grand Boeuf and as a director for IMPRINT Theatreworks’ First Impressions Festival. Her next project will be in February 2023 as director of Theatre Denton’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She thanks her cast, crew, and Sundown team from the bottom of her heart for trusting her with handling this complex and relevant story of family, forgiveness, and healing.
Brandy Townsend (Stage Manager)
Brandy Townsend (they/she) has been a part of Sundown Collaborative Theatre
for 3 years and currently serves as secretary. This is their first time
stage managing for the company and they are very excited! Previously
with the company Brandy has assistant directed Girl in The Machine
and appeared in 3 short works, Love Stories: (A Working Title), and
She Kills Monsters. They are glad you’re here and hope you enjoy the
Claire Fountain (Intimacy Director)
Claire Fountain (she/they) is a DFW-based intimacy director, actor, and playwright. You may have seen her play “UFI” as well as her directing work for “The Magic Word” at Sundown’s Java Scripts festival this past fall or caught her as Ann in the staged reading of “Those Hollow Bodies” with Echo Theatre last month. She is honored to have had the opportunity to work with Julia and such a talented cast on this difficult but incredibly important piece.
Ryan Davila (Lighting Designer)
Ryan Davila (he/him) has served asTechnical Director for Sundown Collaborative Theatre since he joined in 2017. Ryan was first introduced to Sundown Collaborative Theatre when he played Big Stone in Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Since joining Ryan has performed in Sundown’s Short Works Festival and has designed lights for BUG, Pillowman, Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, and The Girl in the Machine. He also worked on the lights and special effects for The Woman in Black. Ryan has also recently designed lights and choreographed stage combat for Theatre Denton’s production of Misery. Ryan recently had his directorial debut when he got the chance to direct She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms. Outside of Sundown, Ryan has taught improv, stage combat, and technical theatre for Theatre Denton’s youth education program. Ryan is hoping to be a theatre teacher someday so he can use theatre and art to inspire others the way it has inspired him.
Aura Coffee, Theatre Denton, Melanie Barth, Jonathan Hott, Emily Chambers, Austin Creswell, and Belinda King