Civil War Christmas to have NY premiere

Paula Vogel. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Paula Vogel play originally debuted
at Long Wharf in 2008

Playwright Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas, which was debuted in 2008 at Long Wharf Theatre, is scheduled to receive its New York premiere later this year.

The play, as described by the New York Theatre Workshop, which will present the work in winter 2012, “weaves a rich tapestry of a beleaguered and divided nation, war-weary and desperate for goodwill, on a blustery Christmas Eve in 1864. Through the personal stories and struggles of a wide range of historical figures and fictional characters … we learn that, for all their differences, one thing is clear: the yearning for peace cuts across religious and class divisions, color lines and, of course, the Mason-Dixon Line.”

The off-Broadway presentation will be directed by Tina Landau, who led Long Wharf Theatre’s 2008 production.

Vogel is on the faculty at the Yale School of Drama and serves as playwright-in-residence at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Vogel won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her play How I learned to Drive.

In 2008, when A Civil War Christmas was being debuted at Long Wharf Theatre, Vogel was interviewed by The Arts Paper about the work.

“The play came in a ‘blink,’” Vogel told Kara Arsenault. “I was having dinner with Molly Smith during tech rehearsals for How I Learned to Drive at Berkeley, and she had just been hired as artistic director for Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. And I started my riff on why do we only produce Christmas plays about Victorian London? Where are the American Christmas carols? In a flash, on a paper cloth and with crayons, I outlined the entire play. I knew all the songs from childhood, and the music organized the story. That was the easy part. The idea that came in a blink has taken 10 years to research. It was difficult to stop reading about the Civil War. I wrote it in 2006.”

In December 2009, A Civil War Christmas was produced by the New Haven Theater Company, whose artistic director T. Paul Lowry also talked with The Arts Paper about the play.

“In time,” Lowry said, “I think it will become one of those shows that people put on every year.”

A version of this story appeared in the New Haven Independent.

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