‘How I Learned To Drive’ is timely for #MeToo movement

PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY Pictured is Kenzie James as Little Bit (right) and Connor Applegate as Uncle Peck in the Heidelberg University School of Theatre and Music’s dress rehearsal of “How I Learned To Drive.”

Staying with the theme “Keep Calm and Woman On,” Heidelberg University is to present a tale of survival by playwright Paula Vogel.

Actors from Heidelberg’s School of Music and Theatre are to present the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “How I Learned To Drive” at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday in Gundlach Theatre, on the Heidelberg campus.

“How I Learned To Drive” is the story of a woman who learns the rules of the road and life from behind the wheel. Vogel’s play is a funny, surprising and devastating tale of survival, a sexual coming-of-age story through the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s as seen through the lens of a troubling relationship between a young girl and an older man.

Director Stephan Svoboda, assistant professor of theatre at Heidelberg, said this presentation is timely with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Svoboda said the audience will be able to see the power struggle between the abuser and victim and the play explores how hard it can be for the victim to break free from their abuser.

“The timing is very important to see this story,” he said.

Senior Kenzie James, who plays the lead female role, Little Bit, said this presentation has opened up students to the conversation about sexual assault. While the subject can be seen as black and white, the play explores how the situation can be more of a gray area.

James said portraying Little Bit is the most challenging role she has had.

“It was very surprising,” she said. “I did not expect to connect with her as much as I have.”

James said as the audience goes through the play with her, they may see Little Bit as weak and not very smart, but James said the character is very intelligent and resourceful.

“She is the victim of a victim of someone else,” she said.

Additional cast members include Connor Applegate as Uncle Peck, Kyrsten Lilly as Female Chorus, Ethan Miller as Male Chorus and Rebecca Helt as Teenage Chorus.

Heidelberg faculty members and the actors are to present a talkback event following the Sunday performance. Faculty members include Jo-Ann Lipford Sanders, dean of the School of Counseling & Education, and Robin Heaton, assistant professor of communication.

Purchase tickets at www.gundlachtheatre.org.