She’s won a Pulitzer Prize, and her play “Indecent” was nominated for a Tony Award this year, but Paula Vogel still faces the same challenges confronting other regional playwrights.

“I don’t live in New York, and I think a lot of people think of theater as only happening in New York. As we know living outside of New York, that’s not true,” said Vogel, who lives in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. “I think it’s important that we recognize that and make sure we are supporting playwrights on the national level.”

With the support of playwrights in mind, Vogel is in Portland to meet the public and mentor aspiring playwrights. On Monday night, she will sit down with Portland Stage’s artistic and executive director, Anita Stewart, for a discussion at the theater that is free and open to the public.

Vogel conducted workshops with high school and college students on Sunday. Her visit is part of the Dramatists Guild Fund’s Traveling Masters national outreach program, which sends dramatists into communities across the country. The Dramatists Guild Fund is the public charity arm of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Vogel is best known for “How I Learned to Drive,” which won a Pulitzer and examines the impact of child sexual abuse and incest. She came to national prominence in 1992 with her AIDS-related play “The Baltimore Waltz,” which won the Obie Award for Best Play.

This year, her play “Indecent” had a Broadway run and received a Tony nomination as the year’s best play. It explores the controversy surrounding the play “God of Vengeance” by Sholem Asch, which was produced on Broadway in 1923. Members of the original production’s cast were arrested and charged with obscenity.

Portland resident Christopher Akerlind won Tony and Drama Desk awards for his lighting design on “Indecent.”

It was a long and complicated play to write, Vogel said – and enormously thrilling and satisfying to work on deadline, staying up well past midnight and delivering pages to the cast each morning.

“It was hard work,” she said. “I was up until 3 and had to bring pages in at 10. I never had the chance of doing that (before), because I have been running theater programs. You want to be able to do that while you can still stay up till 3 a.m.”

She enjoys leading workshops because she likes making people believe they are playwrights. During her travels, she works with veterans, female prisoners and others, and tells them: “Everyone is a playwright and everyone has a story to tell. When I am doing a workshop, I don’t distinguish between a 15-year-old and an 80-year-old. I think 15-year-olds and 80-year-olds are very much artists and artists-in-the-making. I don’t tend to actually think of the people in my workshops as students. I tend to think of us all as artists.”

Vogel, 65, is juggling several projects, including a commissioned piece for the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Lurking in the wings is her long-awaited book about the art of play writing.

“I am ready to let it all come out,” she said. “A lot of us who don’t have time to be full-time writers work on different projects in our head the way composers do. I’ve been working on this one in my head for a long time, and I am hoping it comes out quickly. I tend to be a binge writer. I like to wall myself away and take naps instead of sleep.”

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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