‘Spring Awakening’: Youth in Revolt

The hum of voices singing drifted down the hallways of the Loeb Experimental Theater, where a rehearsal room door failed to contain the explosive harmonies of the cast of the musical “Spring Awakening.” The show, directed by Laura Sky Herman ’19, portrays “youth in revolt” by framing the experiences of 19th century German teenagers with contemporary rock music.

The musical, adapted from a play of the same name by Frank Wedekind, addresses themes of sexuality, religion, and communication, among others. Cast member Henry R. Lynch ’20, who plays Hanschen, said, “It’s interesting that it’s based off of a play written in 1891. While it does feel old in some scenes, the scenes and the relationships between people are still true to this day.”

Herman’s unique vision for the show emphasizes power dynamics within the physical boundaries of the stage. “The show is about oppression and freedom,” she said. “Something we’ve tried to focus on is the hierarchy of individuals and the spaces they are allowed to inhabit.” The production makes use of different levels of staging: The show’s adult characters traverse the balcony, while a platform represents the world of the kids. Cleverly choreographed level shifts wordlessly reflect the status of each character as their experiences shape the way they engage with the space.

In dealing with such serious subject matter, the cast of 13 do not take their roles lightly. Karalyn E. Joseph ’21, who plays Wendla, is particularly conscious of her role in context of the greater themes of the show. “Wendla is not naive–I feel like she’s often seen as weak and naive,” she said. “She’s a bright powerful girl, who’s given no information about the world. Through no fault of her own she’s thrown into society. I’m careful not to portray her as naive.”

Both Joseph and Herman hope that the audience will connect to the show. “I think there’s so many messages in this show that four people could come see the show and each leave with a different connection,” Joseph said. “There are so many possible takeaways that are all valid.”

Spring Awakening will run at the Loeb Experimental Theater from Oct. 27 until Nov 4.


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