Teens, sex, music, dance and… a dystopic society?
Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening (1891) premiered in 1906 Berlin amidst a climate of rising feminist movements in Germany. Anarchist and political activist Emma Goldman praised the show for addressing pertinent social issues around youth and sexuality:
More boldly than any other dramatist Wedekind has laid bare the shams of morality in reference to sex especially attacking the ignorance surrounding the sex life of the child and its resultant tragedies.
The play was a prescient triumph, but censored as pornographic and the original script banned from performance in the UK until the 1970s. A century after its debut, Spring Awakening was revived in musical form on Broadway featuring soon-to-be Glee stars Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff. The popularity of the musical adaptation, with lyrics by Steven Sater and music by pop artist Duncan Sheik, rocketed the play back into the public periphery. The musical is faithful to the tragic core of Wedekind’s drama, juxtaposed with noughties zeitgeist pop music. The 100 years between the two works mark the original as ahead of its time, with themes as relevant then as today.
SOAS’s production pays homage both to the musical and to Wedekind’s play: the dystopic aesthetic contrasts with the bright and bubbly Broadway show with which most people will be familiar. In the midst of campaigns like ‘Enough is Enough’ on campus, we felt that now was the time to strip back the Broadway aesthetic and musical sugar-coating, and recognise in the play troubling symptoms of rape culture.
Spring Awakening is playing in the DLT on the 13th and 14th December from 8:30pm and 15th of December from 7pm. Tickets are on sale between 12-1pm in the JCR, on the door or online at https://soasunion.org/events/6470/945/. See website for full list of trigger warnings.