Spring Awakening: Reimagining the Theater
Every theater experience brings something new, and each production is a unique endeavor. This year’s musical will be unlike any other musical production King has put on. Spring Awakening, the musical revival, is based on a German play of the same name written in 1891. It is, in the words of King’s director Mark Silence,“about young people trying to balance what they want and their instincts and their nature against what’s expected of them; how the choices we make can both benefit us, but moreover in this story, can be used to our detriment. The metaphor of spring - and this changing of seasons - is used to represent how we change instinctively, intuitively, naturally, and unavoidably”.
From the very beginning, this production would need to be different in order to face the challenge of performing collaboratively in the age of social distancing. “We’re taking a look at the musical part of it. We do some short scenes just to give some context to the narrative, but mostly we’re just exploring the music,” Mr. Silence explained. Rehearsals were done virtually: the actors rehearsed their scenes through Zoom and rehearsed their music over FaceTime. The theater was configured to accommodate each actor while maintaining social distancing: the actors sit across the stage and backstage, plexiglass barriers partitions them, and they perform to a camera
“We’re doing something closer to 1950s television or Saturday Night Live - we want these performances to be live but we have to send it to an audience”.
Stage acting and camera acting are distinct from one another, and it took some time to adjust. “I think the biggest challenge is having to act into a camera,” says Peri Ferguson, an actor in the production. “Usually on stage, you get to work with other actors closely and you can go off of their lead. This year, instead of looking at the people I’m interacting with in a scene; I have to face a camera. At first it was a little odd, like having a conversation with myself, but over time I’ve gotten more used to it.”. Ellie Goudie, another cast member, remarked that “you have to really keep the camera in mind the whole time you're in a scene”.
Nevertheless, the spirit of a live production remains intact. “The biggest difference from other shows I’ve done is not having the energy from a live audience, but it’s great getting to perform socially distanced with the whole cast!” cast member Luisa Simon told me. Ellie noted, “I’m excited to perform a show that may not have been done in a normal year, and I think this medium is perfect for Spring Awakening”
“I am honestly just excited to share what we‘ve been working super hard on for the last couple of months!” Peri affirmed. “I am really happy with the show, and I don’t think we could have done a better job of adapting to a pandemic. I’m so excited for people to come see it!”
I was fortunate enough to watch the dress rehearsal, and I can personally attest to the quality of the show. The effort put into every aspect of the performance is clearly evident, and I encourage everyone who reads this article to watch the incredible work done. Performances of Spring Awakening are Friday, March 5 at 7:00pm and Saturday, March 6 at 7:00pm.
Friday Night: https://kingschoolct-org.zoom.us/j/92874171453
Saturday Night: https://kingschoolct-org.zoom.us/j/98580523318