An exciting and contemporary version of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening is bursting onto stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse next month. Provocative and unnerving, the play depicts the confusion and intensity of teenage life today. The play asks us questions about youth and the future that we can all relate to. Steph Muldoon spoke to Ekow Quartey, who plays one of the show’s characters, Hans.
Tell us a bit about the premise of the play.
At the core, the play follows a group of eighty teenagers as they all experience their sexual awakenings in various different ways, and how this effects, moulds and changes them.
The original was first performed in 1906, how has this version been made more relevant to contemporary society?
Anya Reiss’ writing alone makes this play more accessible. It sounds like us today, it feels like us, it’s just right. But the themes of the play effected society in the early twentieth century the same way they affect us today. Some would even say what Frank Wedekind was putting on stage then was before it’s time.
What do you think it takes for a modern adaptation to work?
As long as it keeps speaking to which ever generation it is aimed at, it should work.
What are your favourite modern adaptations?
Anya Reiss’ Spring Awakening definitely!
Do you think modernising classics is necessary in order to gain the interest of young people?
I wish it wasn’t the case but it may be true. Sometimes it’s just a change of the language that is needed for it to speak to young people, but who are we to say that that is even necessary. It may be more about how these classics are approached in the first place. I know at school I dreaded lessons on Shakespeare but now I’m just praying for the day I’m luckily enough to perform in one.
Tell us about your character. How can we, as students, relate to him?
I play Hans in this production. I think every single character in this play is relatable, we all experienced teenage angst and discovery, we all wanted to grow up faster than we should and we all know what being labelled a teenager felt like
What questions does the play ask us?
What really is the right answer or the right thing to do? Do we learn those answers as we get older or do we just get better at winging it?
How do you think the role of theatre has changed since the twentieth century?
There is a larger spectrum of theatre. Theatre has incorporated our technologically advanced world. You’ve seen the evolution of immersive theatre with cinematographic-esque sets. What theatre is capable of aesthetically has changed and the way audiences watch theatre has changed. But I hope the power of theatre will never change.
Give us one reason why we should all go see Spring Awakening.
Our generation, and I know I’ve been culpable of this, has always said there isn’t enough theatre for us and about us. So why wouldn’t you come and see a play that expresses the voice of our generation, written by one of the best writers of our generation. And if that doesn’t get you, I could give you 8 others, the cast of Spring Awakening.
You can see Spring Awakening at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from March 7th-22nd.
Image courtesy of the West Yorkshire Playhouse