Planting the Seeds for a Spring Awakening

Written by Production Assistant Matthew Mainhart

This past week, rehearsals started at Theatre Horizon for their production of Spring
Awakening. This Tony Award winning musical based on a 19th century German play, explores the sexuality of burgeoning youths in the repressive German culture of the 1890’s.

Only one week in, Director Matthew Decker has pushed his cast’s production beyond such a simple description.  Decker’s firm but open directing style demands complexity from his actors and creativity from his production staff.  Decker has put together a highly talented cast and staff who are up to the challenge.  In order to help them tap into the play Decker took the role of teacher early on, assigning homework to each of the cast members based around the plays setting. Each actor went home and prepared a presentation on one of the facets of the play. There were presentations on religion, economy, education, Faust, philosophy and anything else that might give the cast and crew insight into the world of these characters. The presentations were supposed to be 10 minutes each, but the cast went at their task with such enthusiasm that each presentation easily went over this limitation as the new information sparked conversations and discussions about how the information illuminated this or that within the play.  Each presentation equipped the cast with new knowledge to make deeper decisions and stronger choices.

And this is a good thing, as Decker looks for the deeper complexities of every song
and scene, polishing them to shine like many faceted jewels. With the help of Music Director, Amanda Morton and Choreographer, Jenn Rose, Decker worked his way through the first scene this past weekend. In this scene Wendla Bergman, played by Grace Tarves, sings the song “Mama Who Bore Me”. On the surface this is an accusatory song from a young woman to her mother, upset over her lack of knowledge on things of a sexual nature. But Decker and his crew refuse such simplicity. After only a few hours the song had exploded with tones of confusion, shame, joy, and excitement. Jenn Rose’s choreography of the scene opens up these tones for the audience on a visceral level and Grace Tarves’s innocent sound lends credence to the scene that easily draws the viewer along Wendla’s journey of self-exploration.

The cast rehearsed other scenes throughout the weekend with the same vigor and
creativity, bringing life to each moment. The world that Decker and his cast have begun to
weave is intricate and intense. In short, after a week of rehearsals Spring Awakening shows all the signs of blossoming into a beautifully complex journey.

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