A message from Paul Mow, director of Spring Awakening

"Our Sunday, March 26th panel discussion with Mary Jo Schnell, Director of The Outcenter, Jeffrey Booker, Teen Center- BH Boys & Girls Club; Brad Brunner, Principal of Lakeshore High School, Dr. Larry and Sandy Feldman, Mental Health Professionals, and Alex Kerr, Theatre Practicum Instructor was a beautiful outpouring of nearly 2 full hours of post-show discussion on the various topics, emotions and cautionary tales brought to life in our production of Spring Awakening.
We talked at length about many LGBTQ+ issues, and a few of our own cast members discussed their own paths to coming out as homosexual or bi-sexual within their own communities here in SW Michigan. Although at the time of it's Tony-award winning run on Broadway (2007), gay marriage was not yet legal, the themes introduced are still incredibly relevant in our "#RESIST" world today and in our new realities of 2017. Although we'd love to revel in our triumphs and use Spring Awakening as a celebration of how far we've come, we noted a distinct amount of anger within our production at not being able to fully live in such celebration, in fear of our new political administration and potential legal rollbacks. The musical sends terrific messages of hope and acceptance, and certainly consent from the entire cast of sexuality, also dealing with sadness, depression, anxiety, shame, religion, and so many more hot-button issues. The panel discussion was very intense in it's communication and ability to love every one in that room, and for the 50+ people that stayed around to talk with the cast and this panel, it was not a moment to be missed, and truly a career highlight for me as a director and a loud and proud ally of the Outcenter and my hundreds of LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues." - Paul Mow, Director, Spring Awakening, Lake Michigan College

Director’s Notes

Spring Awakening presents us with a coming of age story where pre-pubescent teenagers are struggling to understand themselves and the world around them. Within that framework, I wanted to explore the damage that can be done when we aren’t connected with one another.

As stage director, I have chosen to update our production through the use of current technology (tablets, phones, etc.) to bolster the themes of connection loss within today’s culture and society. Perhaps this show needn’t be updated at all, as it was intended to remind us that these cautionary tales still play out today as they did in 1891 Germany. However, I believe that the artistic license to play with convention affords us (actor, audience or director) the opportunity to continuously create dialogue and connection in order to discuss artistic works of this level of importance. 

Frank Wedekind’s Frühlings Erwachen (translation: “Spring’s Awakening”), written in 1890, carries with it the rarely used subtitle “A Children’s Tragedy.” Dealing with once taboo (and in many places, still taboo) issues of sexuality, puberty, rape, abuse, abortion, homosexuality, and suicide the notion of “tragedy” seemed clear: it is in the circumstances. The tragedy thus centers around the destructive things that can happen when we speak at each other instead of to each other.

Over the past several years we have seen a rash of bullying and teen suicides around the country—many of them highly publicized. The issues these acts stem from are topics we confront in Spring Awakening, many of which could have been prevented—or at least mitigated—if the characters had been given the freedom and confidence to communicate and connect with each other or their elders. In a world where we have replaced face-to-face conversation with texts, snapchats, tweets, and subtweets, Spring Awakening provides a frightening reminder to us about what can happen when we quite literally stop talking with each other. 

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