January 16, 2006

Paula Vogel

Paula Vogel
Originally uploaded by butwait.

I missed my chance. Paula Vogel is a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright who teaches at Brown University. She was there when I was there. And she's that rare combination... a genius who really grooves on teaching. But despite the fact that I fell in love with theater at Brown, stage-managing more shows than anyone else on campus, I never took a class with Paula Vogel.


Because I was scared of her. Or, more accurately, scared of what she represented. For in addition to being a great and gifted teacher, Paula Vogel is gay. Back in the mid-80's, walking around campus, she carried herself with the indescribable air of someone who had been through hell and didn't give a damn what anyone thought of her. I wouldn't have been able to articulate any of this then, but the very fact of her different-ness unnerved me to my core. (I don't even think she was "out" as a lesbian when I was there, at least not in any way that made that information available to an undergraduate, but still...) At a time in my life when I was wrestling with who I was and would be, Paula Vogel came to stand for a choice I wasn't ready to make. Not yet. (It wasn't until my junior year that I used the words "we" and "gay" in the same sentence.)

I am making up for lost time today by listening to one of her lectures via Princeton's awesome Webmedia site. And I think that if I could cultivate a habit of running TOWARDS the things that scare me, it might be really good for me. Except for the times when the thing scaring me is an angry grizzly bear, of course. But maybe even then.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Wow. Yeah...running towards what scares us. That's definitely the way to live a full life of integrity. I can feel that woman's power just looking at her. The picture you paint of yourself as a youngster at Brown is unrecognizable to me. I never thought of you as being afraid of anything -- especially not different-ness. But of course, it makes sense. On the topic of artists by webcast, check out Al Filreis' Writer's House at Penn: they have a new thing called "PennSounds" which lets you hear all manner of poets and others reading their stuff at the House.