Working on Spring Awakening has been the greatest honour and privilege. Spring has been my favourite musical since I discovered it in high school and its emotional honesty bowled me over. It is such a unique piece which manages to encapsulate all of the emotions of adolescence: angst, anxiety, loneliness, love, loss, and most of all: confusion. For this reason, it is such a personal show for so many people. The cast and prod team have worked really hard to convey this intimacy and naturalism in our production. Our production is not your typical razzle dazzle musical theatre show; the stage is small and not removed from the audience, and set, tech, and costumes are all stripped back and simple so the performances take centre stage (forgive the pun). In this year of alternative venues, DULOG really wanted to showcase a musical which not only works without a traditional theatre setting, but in fact benefits from it.
The plot of Spring is quite simple, it focuses on the experiences of twelve restless youths in rural 19th century Germany as they grapple with their sexuality and personal growth, without the support or understanding of their parents’ generation. The show is eclectic, combining genres of music (rock and folk), as well as exploring 19th century and contemporary attitudes, whilst visuals serve to illuminate the timelessness and universality of the issues.
The show is full of tonal contrasts as well: there are moments of comedic moments as well as intensely serious ones. While some of the songs are playful, like The Bitch of Living which legitimately talks about wanking, more of the show serves to represent difficult real-life issues. The content includes, sexual and physical abuse, mental ill-health and suicide, a problematic sex scene with dubious consent, and a back-alley abortion.
Consequently, the rehearsal period has been very intense as we’ve had to deal with the emotional gravity of these scenes on a daily basis. Previous productions have handled the sexual and violent content in quite gratuitous ways; our take, being occasionally more abstract, preserves and enhances the discomfort and censure that these scenes are meant to elicit. Because of the difficult content, we made a concerted effort to facilitate team bonding before we delved too deep into the material. This way we have created a safe space in the rehearsal room and been able to support each other. As beautiful and fulfilling as this project has been to work on, getting to know our amazing cast, half of which are making their DULOG debut, has by far been the greatest joy. As we now prepare to welcome audiences this week, my remaining hope is that our show touches and inspires its viewers the way it is has all of us!
Spring Awakening is on at 7.30pm, 14th– 17th November in the Joachim Room, Hild Bede.