Awakening theater-goers into spring
August 6, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 7:25 pm)
Spring Awakening, winner of eight Tony Awards in 2007, is a rock musical based on Frank Wedekind’s 1892 play about youth with raging hormones. The original play was banned in Germany because of the honest depiction of teenage sex – including rape, teenage suicide, homosexuality, child abuse and abortion.
Amy Osatinski is directing the coming local production at Aurora Fox Arts Center, and has indicated that as real as the sex was onstage in New York City, it will be more real here. She intends to really express the unbridled energy of the characters making their journey from youth to adulthood.
The musical includes music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater which include such songs as “Mama Who Bore Me,” “The Bitch of Living” and “Totally Fucked.”
Artistic Director Keith Rabin Jr. spoke with Out Front about Ignite Theatre’s next production.
Do you think there are individuals today who suffer the same sexual repression the characters in the show do?
Of course! Think of the novel Blue Lagoon. Those kids grew up with no way of knowing what their bodies were telling them and what the outcomes would be. It’s inevitable that without proper education about sex, the same situations would occur.
How does Spring Awakening manage to be so emotionally powerful in speaking to issues such as child abuse and teen suicide?
It is sad that this question is so easy to answer. Spring Awakening was originally titled A Children’s Tragedy, which sounds awful! But it’s exactly what this show deals with. This is the reason that it is so emotionally powerful and relevant. And there is so much of this still happening today. Witness the string of recent tragic teen suicides.
What might parents and teachers learn?
It is important that every educator, educational institution and parent have a plan for the sexual education of their children. I hope that this production would prove that even though the “talks” might be uncomfortable for some, it’s necessary to provide maturing teenagers the knowledge of something that is so life changing.
Why do young people find this musical so important?
The show centers itself around adolescents. I think even though the book it’s based on is written to take place in the late 1800s, sexuality is always an intense part of any teenager or young adult’s life. The music pulls us into today’s era by incredible alternative/rock music that really makes the show electric.
How do you think your audience will respond?
Well, that rather depends on who you are as a theater-goer. Our shows generally – not always – cater to audiences that enjoy newer, sexier and raw productions. The simplest way to explain how I feel audiences are going to react is as follows: There are some scenes in Spring Awakening that may make you squirm, and it could be a really good thing or a really awkward thing.
Could you tell my readers a little bit about the visual aspects of the show?
Oh my god! Not only is Spring Awakening going to have an incredible cast but the scenic and technical aspects of this show are going to be like nothing we have ever done before. The set is classic Victorian in style – gilded, chandeliers, and oriental rugs with awesome scenic painting by Joel Adam Chavez. There are also going to be large pictures in frames that will change through the show depending on what is going on.
Do you anticipate the audience to be primarily young people in their 20s and early 30s?
I would hope not. While this show is very edgy and modern it is based on a play written by Francis Wedekind in the late 1800s. In fact, it was first staged in English in 1917 in New York City. This performance was threatened with closure when the city’s Commissioner of Licenses claimed that the play was pornographic, but a New York trial court issued an injunction to allow the production to proceed. One matinee performance was allowed for a limited audience. Spring Awakening is an extremely controversial and beautiful show. It is intended for a wide audience.