Image: Greta Bendinelli

Spring into Spring Awakening with MTW at the Goose Nest

When I sat down at the start of term with the team of MTW’s production of Spring Awakening, the show was starting to come together. Director Grace Lovegrove, assistant director Alessandra French and co-producer Maya McQueen raved about the upcoming production and shared what the next three weeks of rehearsals would bring.

Set in Germany in 1891, Spring Awakening tells the story of teenagers discovering their sexuality. Set to a rock soundtrack, the musical discusses themes including masturbation, abortion, rape, and suicide.

A first-time musical theatre director, Lovegrove expresses immense passion about this project. Approaching the production from a theatrical background, she prioritised acting when casting for the show, due to difficult themes of sexual awakening and consent. The production team praised the talented cast but also the pool of actors who auditioned. Mentioning leading lady Chloë Fisher – playing Wendla Bergmann – in particular, they are excited about their newer and predominantly first-year cast.

The team is excited about their newer and predominantly first-year cast

While acting has remained a focal point for the directors, choreography plays a vital role in this interpretation. Choreographed by Cory Bloxham and Louise Balcombe, the team noted that audiences may be “surprised” by the amount of choreography present in the show: it will use an estimated five times more choreograph than MTW’s recent production of Rent. Clearly, dance is vital to the story-telling of this production.

With themes of miscommunication and lack of sexual understanding, the production aims to use different devices to convey communication. The use of British Sign Language is a nod to the 2015 Deaf West Broadway revival, but Lovegrove explains that the use of BSL also furthers the theme of communication. With only one BSL speaker, there was a conscious decision not to make it feel like a “token” addition. The role is not to make the show feel more accessible, but rather to have an integrated cast member who is able to further the story-telling process.

Dance is vital to the story-telling of this production

With the inclusion of ‘accessible caption’ on the Friday performance, Spring Awakening is the first MTW production to have an accessible theatre performance. The team notes that “accessible theatre is on the rise” and are excited to see what this brings to the future of MTW productions.

The show’s themes – including consent and rape – have at times proved difficult. But the team argue that the issues are up for interpretation, not set in the script. They have worked closely with the actors to navigate these issues. Ultimately, Lovegrove says, the show focuses on “connection in people”. While the issues may be political, this production focuses on “connections on stage.”

The show’s themes – including consent and rape – have at times proved difficult

Although keen to share details of the upcoming show, the team were cautious not to give too many details away. With the text so rooted in the 19th century, costumes have been used as a way to make the show feel more “timeless” while still alluding to its origins. The team also raved about the lighting: Lovegrove advises to watch out for the line “the world goes neon”.

The final three weeks will be busy. To perfect the show they will be working together with the band, finessing choreography and making the show feel more “fluid”.

When asked what they were most looking forward to, McQueen claimed that she feels like a “proud mother” and is looking forward to watching such a “talented cast.” McQueen hopes that audiences will see “how much you can do with a show” with all sections showing themselves as equally “important”. Lovegrove and French were unanimous about how “beautiful” the show will be to watch. From the visuals, to the music, to the importance of accessibility, it sounds like Spring Awakening is not one to miss.

Spring Awakening is at the Goose Nest, 16-19 May.

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