Why We Perform Spring Awakening

Josh Turner

Spring Awakening is a show that holds no punches. The musical (based on the play by Frank Wedekind) centers around a group of misguided and angsty 19th century German teenagers who struggle through abortion, suicide, and exploring their sexuality. One of the greatest obstacles they face, though, is their ignorant (and sometimes abusive) parents and teachers. In the song "The Dark I Know Well" two girls sing about the physical and sexual abuse they've faced at the hands of their parents, and how they feel they have no voice to speak out against them. That happens to be a recurring theme in Spring Awakening. The character's struggles, both internal and external, stem from their inability to find a voice. This is why Spring Awakening is so important. The same way the angry guitar-driven rock jams of the show give a voice to the characters, the show itself gives a voice to teenagers who face the same hardships as the characters they are portraying.

The two main characters of the show are a young man and woman who are exploring a physical relationship together, without any knowledge of the consequences. Their parents refuse to tell them anything about their changing bodies, and their school system has no place for sex education. While the story of these children being betrayed by their role models and caregivers seems just tragic enough for a staged production, this story is one that often plays out in the real world. The show's biting commentary of sex education in public schools is just as relevant as the other issues in the show, including the epidemic of teenage suicides. Through the songs "B**** of Living" and "Don't Do Sadness" the character Moritz expresses and stresses the struggles he faces every day. He even writes a letter to an adult in his life, pleading for help, but the dangerous signs of depression go unnoticed and he eventually takes his own life. All of these problems faced by the characters are extremely relevant to teenagers today. So why aren't more high schools performing it?

Most public schools shy away from musicals like Spring Awakening. The strong language alone is enough to keep it out of the hands of most high school theatre departments. Even for the high schools who are allowed to perform shows like American Idiot and Rent, which have strong language and edgy subject material, Spring Awakening still seems out of grasp. The subject matter of sex and sexuality is off-limits. But teenagers grapple with these issues every day of their lives. The characters Georg and Hanschen represent teenage youths exploring their sexuality together. Gay characters do not often appear in musicals performed by high schools, and when they do, they are frequently portrayed as a punchline and not as real people with real emotions and motivations. What message does this send to the hundreds of thousands of students who not only view, but perform this material? The message that Spring Awakening sends is that whatever you're going through, whoever you are, whoever you love, it's okay. It's all part of growing up. And that message is so crucial to developing teenagers.

Many students who perform Spring Awakening are extremely passionate about what they're creating. Not only is it a beautiful work of art, with a precise, emotional score and a compelling script, but students are also more likely to be invested in what they perform when they can connect directly to what they create. From West Potomac High School's production of Spring Awakening, student Adrianna DeLorenzo said "This show exerts an energetic message of hope, even through the incredible tragedy. I was shocked, but insanely excited when I found out that we had gotten permission to put on Spring Awakening. It has always been one of my favorite musicals, and to finish my senior year with this production is something really special. I know that some people struggle to understand the need for the rawness of the show, but it's important, and I really hope that our community will see that and love it as much as I do." Another student from the production, Tony Lemus, said "This show conveys serious themes and topics that should be shared with a teen audience. Performing this show to me means that I can share these topics with people when I am at an age where I can relate to some of the themes. It also gives me the opportunity to help people who are either going through something related to the show and need help or someone who is uninformed about these topics that I can help." Students, and the community they belong to, deserve an artistic outlet that leaves a lasting, positive effect. A dialogue needs to be started somewhere, and many theatre students are devoted enough to be the ones to do it. We perform Spring Awakening because our youth needs a voice. We perform Spring Awakening because sexual abuse and suicide should not be swept under the rug. We perform Spring Awakening because it is important.

Assigned seating for all shows is $12 and is only available until 2 hours before each performance at westpotomactheatre.org Any remaining seats will be available at the door one hour before performances. We recommend purchasing tickets online ahead of time.

Dates:

May 25th at 7:00pm

May 26th at 7:00pm

May 31st at 7:00pm

June 1st at 7:00pm

June 2nd at 7:00pm

Warning: This show contains mature content and adult language.

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