Publication Date

April 2018

Advisor(s)

Kathleen Conlin, Edward Torres

Major

Theater

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Traumatic memory recall is often fragmented and elusive. It is resistant to normative discourse and pathological language. Traumatic memory, instead, requires an ephemeral archive, one that can capture the affective, unnamable potent details that stick with the survivor. Paula Vogel?s How I Learned to Drive demonstrates that theater can be such a space. Perhaps for this reason, How I Learned to Drive uses a non-linear narrative structure, bending and blending the relationships between time and space, fact and fantasy. This paper investigates the ways that How I Learned to Drive resonantly unravels and reconstructs trauma. I look specifically at the way Paula Vogel uses non-linearity, fantasy and direct address to confront and rely on the audience. Using Bryoni Trezise?s key concept of affective memory, I investigate how affect can travel temporally and through embodiment. This paper begins by chronicling how traumatic memories are stored and the formal qualities of theater that make it a conducive site to unravel them. It then details how embodiment and bearing witness play a large part in the process of working through trauma. Using psychoanalytic thought as foundational vocabulary, I analyze significant passages of How I Learned to Drive and how they propose a new symbolic for Li?l Bit to find healing and ultimately, forgiveness.

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