Combine rock music and 19th century adolescents, and the result is Ivy Tech Student Production’s performance of “Spring Awakening.”
“Spring Awakening” will be performed Oct. 20 to Oct. 28 at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. Tickets starts at $5 with a student ID.
“Spring Awakening,” set in late-19th century Germany, follows a group of adolescent kids as they go through puberty and struggle with emotional and physical hardships.
However, the understanding of concepts like depression and sexual, physical and mental health was not to the level it is today. This creates complications for the characters.
“It shows the importance of educating not just adults, but especially youth when you’re going through all those changes,” Kaila Day, actress playing Martha, said.
Martha and Ilse are characters dealing with abuse in their relationships. They serve as foils — Martha represents what can happen to a person when they speak out about their abuse, and Ilse represents a situation where one stays silent.
“Stepping into that mental space was kind of crazy and surreal,” Day said. “I think it’s important that people do that every once and a while to see something that you don’t see in your everyday life.”
Ilse is given a vague description of sex by her parents, and as a result doesn’t comprehend the potential consequences when she has it. Moritz is a character dealing with depression, but nobody in his time understands his experiences. His struggles aren’t valid in the eyes of other characters.
“When we keep people in ignorance, awful things happen,” producing artistic director and actor playing multiple roles Paul Daily said. “If you simply arm people with knowledge, things can be averted.”
The show breaks the conventional setting of the characters and story through its use of music. The score, written by pop artist Duncan Sheik, is defined by rock and punk rock sounds.
“It really could read just as a rock concert,” Day said.
Despite the disparity between the 21st century rock and 19th century setting, the play is still relatable, Day said.
“It very much was written to kind of break out of 1890s Germany into modern day,” Daily said. “It’s still relatable hundreds of years later.”
Songs such as “The Bitch of Living” deal with the emotional difficulties of love and loneliness, while other songs like “All That’s Known” convey aggravation with overbearing educational authority. Many numbers deal with adolescent sexual interest and the confusion that comes with it.
“Just listening to the soundtrack alone, it made laugh, cry, scream,” Day said. “It really sinks its hooks in you.”
The musical version of “Spring Awakening” was written in 2006 and adapted from a play of the same name written in 1891. The show has won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and has been performed in three separate tours across the United States. This production is directed by IU graduate David Anspaugh, who directed films “Hoosiers” and “Rudy.”
Despite the heavy subject matter, the show forces viewers to question whether viewers are serving as good role models for the young and whether they are making a better society for the next generation, Daily said.
“I want people to appreciate the honesty of it all,” Day said. “I want them to be more honest with themselves and with those in their lives.”
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