Paula Vogel–Cool As Hell

As much as I enjoy James Lipton Inside the Actor’s Studio, his respectful posture and meticulous research just isn’t as fun as the host of Cool As Hell podcast’s energy and fearless interview style.

Last month Michael interviewed playwriting icon Paula Vogel and got her talking about the state of the arts in the U.S. Her ideas about getting kids doing art at the same age they are learning to kick a soccer ball and getting the arts back in schools might not be new.

She does say some interesting things about the messages artists are getting these days. Among them are her feelings that “Darwin and captialism are very bad models for art” (3:15) and art begets art.

I was also intrigued by her idea that even though she was a klutz, she had to learn to play sports and as a result, all athletes today, artists of the flesh she calls them, speak for her inner athlete. She hopes for the day that every creative artist speaks for the inner artist housed in everyone.

The thing I like about Michael is that he is respectful but he starts his interview right off saying he disagrees with some of her views. After he lets her explain, he then challenges her idealism and asks for practical ways for her vision to manifest in a country that isn’t likely to throw off the captialist model she says is unhealthy for the arts.

I don’t know that she really provides any new answers since she talks about going back to the 60s arts environment, calls for more money to fund the arts and art in schools. She does present some quotable moments like “art is a dog that you feed that bites you” (7:05) when arguing that art should challenge society but the agenda of arts funders is to make art palatable and devoid of challenge.

On the other hand, I give her credit for doing the interview. Podcasting being so new, I imagine it would be difficult to gauge how substantive a discussion she would be expected to have.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


1 thought on “Paula Vogel–Cool As Hell”

  1. Paula is definitely a cool as hell person. I appreciate he openness, candidness and on top of that, she is very articulate. I would have loved to explore some of the issues she brought up (especially her comments on capitalism and darwinism not being good models for art to follow), but then venue where I taped from had me on a tight interview schedule with the pulitzer prize winning playwright.

    P.S. Butts in the Seats Rocks

    Michael Rice
    Host of Cool As Hell Theatre Podcast


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