Theexpressionist technique in the play ‘How I learned to drive` byPaula Vogel is expressed by how the entire play is focused on theleading character Li`l Bit emotional state. The minimal use of propsin every scene of the play is therefore giving the play a bare kindof look. The opening scene introduces this where there are only twochairs and the leading actress of the play on stage. In this scene,Li`l Bit spoke directly to the audience describing suburban Marylandin 1969. This links the audience to the period back then a basis foran expressionist technique in a play. The emotional touch isexpressed by Li`l Bit long monologues to describe how she feels at aparticular scene therefore we also find this when she is in a drunkafter a passionate kiss says the affair is not right because UnclePeck is a married man (Smith 45). The conflicting emotions areexpressed to the audience through Li’l Bit addressing the audiencedirectly or through the other casts in the play. Therefore, thethesis of this paper will focus on highlighting the emotional worldof a young lady who is taken advantage of by an older trusted memberof the family.
Theoverall effect Paula Vogel is attempting to create is the emotionalcontent of the play that is done by the expressive manner thecharacter of Li`l Bit is done. The many monologues she does toexpressing her emotional state either sometimes sure or confused allthis are shown without any hindrance. This kaleidoscope of emotionalcircumstance of Li’l Bit is a constant theme of the play that iscommunicated to the audience also forming a basis of the rest of thecast to respond to. The reaction to Li`l Bit emotional state isrepresented by Uncle Peck responding to Li`l Bit mixed response tohis overture also the choir the comes timely either to introduce thenext scene or plays a role of the parent. The expression of realityby the period enacted per scene is quite exact although at timesusing music from that period to reinforce the act. The effect is verysuccessful because the audience is continuously linked to the entireemotional rollercoaster of Li’l Bit throughout the play with thesupporting casts plus props providing the enhancement appropriately.
Theclassical elements in the play the major one is the chorus composedof a male, female and teenager (Arnott 30). This is a Greek devicethat is in use here to fulfill various roles therefore they appear ashigh school boys and girls also individual family members. Theydeliver their part in a Greek choral tradition by observing andanalyzing the two main characters. The mimicking of elements fromtheir source is by the incorporation of the Greek chorus theme ofthree utility actors. They are changed as they play different rolesin various scenes in the play therefore as parents, grandparents andstudents. The usage of this classical element is to reinforce thekind of emotional state of the main character providing a clearpicture of what the main character is going through at a given pointof time. The classical tragedy is here not successful because it isnot a traditional disaster case but a mixture of tragedy and comedy.Li`l Bit story is told by her so eventually she will survive whatevercrosses her path. The play is a tragicomedy.
Therealistic elements in the play are when Li`l Bit is talking to theaudience mostly directly narrating perhaps what happened in the pastalthough she is in the present. The story is told when Li`l Bit is anadult portraying that it is a present situation described back andforth in a non-consequential manner. The emotional state of Li’lBit at times, she swings from protagonist to antagonist moving fromthe seduced to seducer here providing a different understanding ofthe story as told from the eyes of a woman. The social issuesaddressed here are the relationship between Uncle Peck and Li`l Bit,which is not acceptable but happening. Is Uncle Peck apedophile?There are sub-plots within the play that tackles the socialissues like when her mother advises her. The ethical issue here ishow Uncle Peck takes advantage of the opportunity of teaching Li`lBit how to drive to start an affair with her despite his marriedstatus. The political issue here is what avenue available for Li’lBit that by chance can be used which apparently are not there becausedespite what is happening no public acknowledgement is done. Theseissues are so central to the author because of the way they areaddressed in the play by highlighting each without any overshadowingthe other. The goal is achieved by trending the balance between therealism and comedy in the play, which is rather delicate by asuperbly done mixture of tragic and comedy.
Thescenes are not organized in a chronological manner.However, they area mixture of monologues, narration, flashbacks and the kindimpersonal voice. The principle here is to keep the audienceexpectant because the next scene is unknown. The author plan is totell a story in bits and pieces like everyday life that follows noordered pattern. The anticipation created by the manner of the playis not easily stated consequently the audience is kept attentive asthe thematic development of the play progresses to the end. Theexperiment was largely successful because of how the play wasreceived even currently still acclaimed.
Arnott,P. D. Publicand Performance in the Greek Theatre.USA. Routledge. 2002. Print.Smith,C. S. TheNew York Times Theater Reviews 1997-1998.Routledge, 2014.