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Spring Awakening: From The Play To The Musical

1400 words - 6 pages

Benjamin Franklin Wedekind was born on 24th July, 1864 in Hanover, today’s capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony, Germany. Wedekind’s father, Friedrich Wilhelm Wedekind, was a physician, and his mother, Emilie Kammerer, a German actress and singer. He grew up in Switzerland, where his father had purchased a castle. After finishing is secondary education, he attended one of Switzerland’s universities, the University of Lausanne, but dropped out and finally moved in Munich where he studied literature and law at the University of Munich. After travelling through England and France, he came back in Munich in order to attempt to make a living from acting (“Simkin”). Before becoming a famous playwright, he also worked as a journalist, a secretary for a circus and an advertising copywriter ("Frank Wedekind (German Actor and Dramatist)”). Afterwards, he joined the staff of a satirical magazine where he began to publish his own poems.
It is between the autumn of 1890 and the spring of 1891 that he wrote is first major play and highly influential work in the modern history of theatre, Frühlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening). The play is a harsh criticism of the sexually oppression suffered by the growing youth at the end of the 19th in Germany. It addresses subject matters such as teenage desire, abortion, homosexuality, and rape. It follows three teenagers, Wendla, Moritz, and Melchior, in the discovery of their body and in their journey through the complicated time of sexual awakening. Although written in the early 1890s, the play was not produced until the month of November of 1906 (“Biography of Frank Wedekind (1864-1918)”).
At the time of its creation, it was considered as a very provocative offensive work. However, its content was widely recognised as “revolutionary”. Writing this play was also a useful way for Wedekind to clearly demonstrate Expressionism, a modernism movement originating from Germany. Before Spring Awakening, no single play had addressed social taboos that way it successfully did. Talking about controversial topics such as homosexuality, rape, and masturbation was really risqué and Wedekind had to work extremely hard in order for the play to be finally be fully licensed (“Freeman Pockross”). The very first representations of the play, both in Germany and in America, critically failed to attract a lot of people. Before the World War I, it received many injunctions and was censored numerous times. Wedekind had a really hard time defending his play from the harsh critics and finding a way to make his play completely uncensored. However, after the World War I, Spring Awakening began to be freely produced.
However, when the Nazis started to tragically take over Germany in 1933, the popularity of Spring Awakening dramatically decreased. It has never been banned, but the majority of the German producers did not want to produce the play out of fear of being under the spots of the Nazis.
After the war ended, the play started...

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