An Evening with Spring Awakening
On Thursday, I had the fortune of facilitating ArtsLive’s An Evening with Spring Awakening at the Howard Thurman Center. I talked with members of the creative team and cast of BU On Broadway’s upcoming production of Spring Awakening, as well as Stage Troupe’s past productions of columbinus, Farragut North, and Speech and Debate. Between cast performances and giveaways, each team sat down for a few minutes to talk about their experiences. It was during these times I could feel the BU theatre community coming together as the groups demonstrated their successes in using theatre as a tool to illustrate political and societal change.
I have always been one to support theatre, but this year, I have found myself asking what support theatre can provide. How can theatre be used to demonstrate timely issues? Where is the play’s call to action? The teams of each show explained how they attempted to answer these questions. The evening was a celebration of just some of the triumphs of these groups, as well as a validation of the reasons for presenting what we love.
Highlights from the discussion included:
- The universality of specificity in Farragut North, directed by Molly Bourque (CAS 2013.) The themes of ambition and a perhaps unhealthy desire for success, told through the lens of politics, are applicable to any field, including academia.
- The tragic relevance of columbinus, directed by Chris Hamilton (CAS 2012)—how a show depicting the events from thirteen years ago calls not only for remembrance, but also an understanding of the too-common origins of these events, origins found in virtually any high school.
- The persistence of truthfully and accurately playing teenagers in Speech and Debate, directed by Jimmy Blackmon (COM 2014), even in exaggerated, comedic absurdities.
- Presenting myriad themes and complexities of coming of age in Spring Awakening, directed by Kat Pernicone (CAS 2013) and Mia Sommesse (CAS 2013), including pressure to succeed, sexual education, and abuse, and finding a window in these characters, either through personal experience or further character exploration.
On top of these fascinating dialogues with the directors and casts, it was great to see the three stage troupe shows offer a brief revival before the conversations, and the Spring Awakening cast deliver a high-energy sneak peak of the show, with performances of “Mama Who Bore Me” and “My Junk.”
I hope to see more panel discussion like this from ArtsLive in the future—not just in theatre, but perhaps in other artistic fields. Art will never stop to demand change; it will never stop to depict the issues of our era. I know there are visual artists, musicians, dancers and poets who agree.
Ryan McPhee (COM 2012) Indulging in art on the stage, in the kitchen, and everywhere in between.@mchadoaboutryan