by Samantha Hamilton-
The Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts will be kicking off the new season with the opening of “How I Learned to Drive”.
Written by Paula Vogel, the play tells the story of a young woman who reflects on the trauma of her childhood abuse and her journey to womanhood. According to RAINN statistics, every nine minutes a child is sexually assaulted.
Director Susanna Rinehart says “Paula Vogel is asking us to sit with the complexity of what these kinds of relationships and situations that are lives find us in are both to live through, experience, and recover from the lasting impacts. That speaks to me…but even more I know it speaks to far too many people.” Rinehart said she’s always been faithful to using theatre at its best, where it helps bring people together.
Opening night will conclude the long journey of pre-production the show has been under since last fall. Rinehart said she’s both relieved and excited to see her work with the cast and crew come alive on the stage but warns viewers that it won’t be an easy one to watch.
Rinehart explains, “Not just the actors or me but the stage management team have had moments of all bursting into tears at the same moment and not necessarily the moments we would’ve predicted.”
81 percent of women will experience some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following their assault, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Rinehart hopes viewers will understand that healing from trauma is an ongoing fight for the victim.
“This play is so stunning in how it theatricalizes the psychological truth of what it is to be a victim because the very nature of the play is fragmented memory, an adult woman who is trying to put together the pieces of these events is determined to find some level of liberation, healing or freedom from that history,” says Rinehart.
She hopes the show will spark a conversation that carries beyond the bounds of the stage.