Exploring Spring Awakening 3.2 Lightening It Up (written by Eric Deutz)
Spring Awakening covers some pretty serious topics including but not limited to: teen suicide, abortion, and lack of sex education. But even with such heavy and emotional subjects, the show still manages to have moments of levity. Keep reading to find out how Eric Deutz, our Moritz, and the rest of the cast are lightening it up.
In most shows, the element with the power to make or break how effective the show is, is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect it to be. For example, if you’re performing a comedy, the most important factor isn’t usually the comedy itself, but rather, the heart of the show. You need to earn the laughs by making the audience love and care for the characters first. The laughs come harder and faster when the audience is emotionally invested.
In a show such as Spring Awakening, which deals with such heavy topics and is poised to draw a few tears out at several moments throughout the show, what can make or break the show is how the comedic, lighter moments are handled.
I think a part of the reason for this has to do with the audience’s expectations coming in. For our show, most people will already know they’re coming to a show that’s likely to make them sad. So if that’s their expectation, and they get exactly what they expect for two hours, there’s no reason for them to explore any deeper into our story. But if we can get our audience to laugh, then we’re getting them to connect, to care, to invest, so if the tears do come later, they’ll come from a much deeper place. We only really cry in the bad times because the good times feel so fresh in our mind.
So in our third week, we begun to really hit the lighter moments in our show, which has been therapeutic as well. Believe me, living in this world five days a week would drive us all into the ground if we couldn’t break from the dramatic and laugh every now and then!
Realistically, finding these lighter moments wasn’t difficult once we started looking for them. For one thing, Steven Sater did a masterful job with this script, handling such heavy topics while still maintaining a good balance of humor. But more than that, this is a show about children. And yes, they’re entering puberty and dealing with the confusion and frustration that comes with that (and some of these kids are handling much worse – depression, abuse, etc.) But at the same time, they’re experiencing love and crushes for the first time, they’re finding such joy from the simple act of playing with their friends, and they’re still young enough to be naïve about the things they have yet to fully understand. And all of those things are worth smiling and laughing about!
When we think about our own childhoods, it’s often a complicated mix of struggles, embarrassment, and an awful lot of humor. No one’s all sad, no one’s all happy, especially at this point in their life. So hey, you may cry if you come to this show. But you’ll laugh too! And you’ll think. And it WILL be complicated.
Sounds like a great night of theatre to me.