(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/5; via Pam Green.)

Once a week, when Paula Vogel was 15 and growing up in suburban Maryland, she would fake her mother’s signature on a sick note for school and hop a bus to the Library of Congress, where she requested books that formed a kind of autodidact’s course of study.

“And they would bring them to me: these 1930s, 1940s, 1950s really pulp-fiction lesbian novels, in which at the end, one of the young women marries a man and the other one commits suicide,” this Pulitzer-winning playwright, 64, said early one recent evening at the Vineyard Theater, where her new play, “Indecent,” opens May 17.

Created with the director Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent” is inspired by Sholem Asch’s Yiddish play “The God of Vengeance” and events surrounding it. Swiftly shut down by the vice squad, its 1923 New York production contained the first kiss ever between two women on a Broadway stage. What stunned Ms. Vogel when she read it, though, as a 22-year-old graduate student at Cornell, came later in the play: a frankly erotic, achingly romantic, rain-splashed female love scene.

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