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“The Awakening of Spring” sheds light on chasm between youth and adults

By: Lindsey White,  Performing & Media Arts
October 25, 2018

Since its 1906 debut, “The Awakening of Spring,” by German playwright Frank Wedekind, has often been criticized and sometimes banned for its controversial subject matter, including sexuality, violence, and mistrust between generations. For the Cornell University cast of “The Awakening of Spring,” Nov. 9–17 at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, staging the play lets them reflect on the complicated relationships between young people and adults, both historically and in the modern world.

“Especially considering that it focuses on such a young time in our lives, it sheds light on those experiences in a way that is always relevant. There will always be people who are exploring these concepts for the first time,” says Dominique Thorne ’19, who plays 14-year-old Wendla.

The play centers on Wendla and her classmates, who are coming of age with complicated life questions and issues that are ignored or extinguished by the adults in their lives—sometimes with tragic consequences.

Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA) professor David Feldshuh directs the production, which is the final project for his PMA 3609 class, Making Theatre: Rehearsal and Production Techniques. PMA senior lecturer Carolyn Goelzer co-directs and instructs the cast in the Michael Chekov acting style.

“The Chekov technique doesn’t anchor us into realism,” explains Goelzer. “In this production, the idea was to create a company that allowed creative impulse from the individual actors to be integrated into the staging ideas that David had for certain moments.”

Goelzer hopes the play provokes thought about individuals’ participation in dynamics that can be harmful. “I think that this play really explicates some problems, and it’s an opportunity to take a good look at them and say, how did this happen? How could it have been different? What might I do in my lifetime and in my relationships that might make that difference happen? That’s what I hope for,” says Goelzer.

Performances of “The Awakening of Spring” are in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts’ Flex Theatre November 9, 10, and 16 at 7:30 p.m., and November 17 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students, seniors, and the Cornell community, and are available at schwartztickets.com or at the Schwartz Center box office Monday–Saturday, 1:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts is located at 430 College Avenue in Ithaca.