The Department of Theater Studies presented Spring Awakening, the play by Frank Wedekind, as its mainstage production spring 2008. Jeff Storer, professor of the practice of theater studies, directed the play.
“Spring Awakening, the play that inspired the Tony-winning Broadway musical by the same name, is a funny, profane, theatrically playful work about young people in the painful process of ‘waking up,’” says Neal Bell, dramaturg for the production and resident playwright and professor of the practice of theater studies. “They are discovering who they are, and who they might become, in a world that seems hemmed in by the brutal hypocrisy of adults.
“It was considered shocking, when it was written in 1890 because of the unflinching way it portrays the sexual confusions and experiments of its young characters. And it still has the power to shock—and thrill and exhilarate,” adds Bell.
Students played the deciding role in selecting the play for production. “We had an open process for choosing the play,” says Storer. “We called for script suggestions last spring and after students submitted ideas, read and discussed the contenders, we whittled the titles down to a dozen and then five and then our final choice.
“I was very excited about the selection and able to get behind their choice, and I am happy it went through such a vetting process,” says Storer. “It allows for more ownership when students play a role in choosing, and we had a great turnout for auditions as a result of the early involvement.”
“I’m delighted that the Duke Theater Department is mounting a production of the original Spring Awakening,” says Bell, “so Triangle audiences can encounter this fascinating, challenging—and ultimately hopeful—play.”
Amir Ofek, visiting lecturer in design at Duke, designed the set and costumes. Dr. Anthony Kelley, assistant professor in the Duke music department, composed the score for the play. Jeff A.R. Jones, Duke visiting lecturer, was fight director for the production, and Ellen Hemphill, senior lecturing fellow in theater studies, worked with the cast on voice and gesture.