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Paula Vogel: Remembering Through Language

Paula Vogel's plays include "Hot 'n' Throbbing," "The Mineola Twins" and "How I Learned to Drive."
Paula Vogel's plays include "Hot 'n' Throbbing," "The Mineola Twins" and "How I Learned to Drive."

In Greek myth, the beautiful Eurydice dies soon after marrying Orpheus. After a trip to the Underworld to retrieve his love, Orpheus makes the mistake of looking back at Hades, and Eurydice must return there.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel says she loves how Sarah Ruhl adapts the Greek myth for modern audiences. In Eurydice, Ruhl -- a former student of Vogel's -- mines themes of language and memory by telling the story from Eurydice's perspective and forcing the nymph to choose between her husband and her father.

Ruhl's vision of Eurydice's father choosing to obliterate his memories of his daughter provides the scene for this week's installment of Scenes I Wish I'd Written, with NPR's Susan Stamberg.

Vogel also picked a scene from her own work to discuss. The Baltimore Waltz opened in 1992, and is Vogel's response to the AIDS plague, written in memory of her brother. In the play, Anna knows her brother Carl is dying, and imagines the two of them in a restaurant.

The Baltimore Waltz is currently in revival at New York's Signature Theatre, along with other works by Paula Vogel. Vogel won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1998 play How I Learned to Drive.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nationally renowned broadcast journalist Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR.

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