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Spring Awakening

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3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  4,353 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
First performed in Germany in 1906, Frank Wedekind's controversial play Spring Awakening closed after one night in New York in 1917 amid charges of obscenity and public outrage. For the better part of the twentieth century Wedekind's intense body of work was largely unpublished and rarely performed. Yet the play's subject matter—teenage desire, suicide, abortion, and homos ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1891)
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Popular Answered Questions

Anna There is a bisexual character and at least one mlm couple. (Arguably two, but the other is only mentioned as a past event.)

Many people believe that…more
There is a bisexual character and at least one mlm couple. (Arguably two, but the other is only mentioned as a past event.)

Many people believe that Moritz is not heterosexual (some say ace, others gay), but that just depends how you read him. His queerness is hinted at more in the musical adaptation by Steven Sater.

Because of the style of Wedekind's writing, you can read almost all of the characters as LGBTQ+ if you're looking for it.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Greg
Dec 16, 2007 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
An interesting play, that's probably as taboo now as it would have been a hundred years ago. Teen suicide, sadistic and masochistic acts, teen sex, murder, moping, masturbation and depression. On top of all these 'disturbing' elements are some very humorous moments and wonderfully written moments of adult (as in grown-ups, not as a euphenism for dirty) banality and absurdity.
Yngvild
Jun 01, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Usually, I find reading plays a poor second to seeing them performed, but some plays are simply unplayable. Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening (Frühlings Erwachen) comes into that category. Apart from the problem of most of the characters being young teenagers (adults playing children never works), the play needs space and quiet for the audience to think in. There is little of that in a musical or noisy West End show.

Like Ibsen, Wedekind briefly mentions events and then leaves us to fill in the b
...more
Robert
Apr 18, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, german
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juushika
A controversial play published in 1891, not performed until 1906, and adpated into a musical in 2006, Spring's Awakening is the story of children facing the beginning of adolescence within the repressed culture of 1892 Germany. This edition, translated and edited by Bentley, contains a number of mini-essays by the editor on everything from the play's timeline to some of its key themes. This commentary is interesting if artless (and, combined with the sprinkling of typos, begs for an editor), pro ...more
Therese Bowes
Jul 21, 2011 Therese Bowes rated it liked it
Having read this after watching the musical, it frustrates me even further that the musical version turned the rape scene into a love scene.. (although I'm not really buying the love scene anyway because Wendla had no real understanding of what was going on in both the play and musical). The rest of the changes are minor in comparison, I guess, but there were a lot of them. I do love that the themes of sexuality, education, religion, etc are still prevalent today in the same exact ways they are ...more
Sean
Dec 27, 2007 Sean rated it really liked it
I read this - the original German play from the late 1800's - in anticipation of seeing the fawned-over new musical (which translator Jonathan Franzen is quick to dismiss as "insipid.") Dark, unique and sadly funny - I'd highly recommend this one to theater people, and caution others that it may in fact be too disturbing to be easily digested. My mind was spinning with thoughts of how you would stage the play today, and it was perhaps only this that prevented me from being truly disturbed. Capti ...more
Jim Dooley
Jan 26, 2017 Jim Dooley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly fascinating set of plays. I know there are those who will bemoan the lengthy dialogue passages that almost seem to border upon histrionics. However, this was a very common style for drama at that time. Also, the delivery depends entirely on the performer, the director, and the stage presentation. Shakespeare can seem hammy when read, but exudes wonder when delivered well.

SPRING AWAKENING - Since its creation in 1910, this play has had many revivals ... including as a musical. It is
...more
Zack
This is a story about several young teenagers in late 1800's Germany who are all coming to terms with what it means to be both children and adults; or at least somewhere inbetween. It's a story about exploring themselves both mentally and physically but also noticing the difference in their interactions and relations with other teenagers – and most importantly, their relation to the adult world and how the adults view and treat them and their questions and thoughts.

It's about the suicidal teena
...more
Phoebe
Nov 13, 2008 Phoebe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by far one of the most influential and moving pieces of literature i have ever read. Now, i will be honest- i saw the musical first. But, in my mind Spring Awakening the musical has it's own slot and Spring's Awakening the play has it's own as well. They are very very very different stories.

The play, despite being from a censored and cruel time in Germany's past, brings up many modern struggles. The tale of teens reaching puberty and discovering these bodies and emotions they didn't know
...more
Matt

The living are as such not to be pitied.

Don't let the title Spring Awakening fool you. This is an impressive piece about growing up. The underlying themes of this play are rather bleak. The issues are serious, deadly serious. Moral authorities –parents, school, church – are there to provide a compass for the adolescents, which eventually lead them astray, one way or another. In some cases the road to their respective hell is paved with good intentions, in other cases it's just plain ignorance. S
...more
B
Jan 30, 2009 B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the original, un-censored version of the script. I guess it was pretty controversial back in the day.

I have to say, I don't really see what all the big hot dog is about this script. People talk in paragraphs, not dialogue. I hate that. Have a conversation. People don't normally talk for 3 minutes and then stop and let the other person talk for 3 minutes in response to what they said.

I guess it would be disturbing to watch if you got a bunch of good, actual 14-year-olds to play the main
...more
kagali
Oct 14, 2016 kagali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What good does it have to do? — We are fit for nothing more, neither good nor evil.”

Spring's Awakening is about mental and physical coming of age, hormone storm, sexual initiation as well as the hypocrisy of nineteenth-century bourgeois society.
This play was mired in controversy back in the day, due to its subject matter: abuse, suicide, homosexuality, rape. It is no surprise that it was banned and censored for a long time after being published.

The teenagers in the story are desperately tryin
...more
Gitta
Jan 23, 2009 Gitta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book really shocked me when I first read it. It was assigned reading in school, and I just couldn't believe I was reading a book about teenage sex, about abortions, masturbation, in school! IN CLASS! In a book that was written a hundred years ago.
It just knocked me on the head.

One day I'll take the time to re-read it.
Katie
Mar 01, 2016 Katie rated it liked it
I'm probably yet another reader who was 'Spring Awakening' on Broadway and decided to read the play after. I knew the musical adaption well, so I did a lot of comparing and contrasting of nuances as I read. Overall, I was underwhelmed by the play, but now I can say that I have read it.
Pixelflocke
Wedekinds "Frühlings Erwachen" war bei uns Schullektüre. Ich kann mich noch gut daran erinnern, in der 8ten Klasse hatte ich es gelesen und ich weiß noch genau, wie es mich damals begeistert hat.
Auch heute noch kehre ich immer wieder gerne zu dem Stück zurück. Es ist einfach großartig!
Lori
Jun 13, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing
This play has it all: teenage sex/rape, abortion, masturbation, homosexual acts, suicide, bad grades!!! And it's all the grown-ups' fault!!!
afra
Aug 20, 2007 afra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hahaha. One hell of a crazy play. You've got to love a play written in 1891, in which teenagers in a repressed society kill themselves upon learning the mechanics about sex.
Cary S
Jul 01, 2012 Cary S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This play will forever be synonymous with the second half of high school in my heart. Thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it walks a bit on the dark side...
Jan-Maat
Featuring abortion, suicide, a homosexual kiss and some masochism this play about German teenagers first published in 1891 is frequently still controversial when staged.
Dennis
Aug 20, 2012 Dennis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, drama, classic, feminism
Tabu werden gebrochen. Heute vielleicht kein allzu schockierendes Drama, berücksichtigt man aber die Zeit, in der dieses Werk erschien, kann man nur voller Respekt sein.
Will Walton
Nov 23, 2013 Will Walton rated it it was amazing
The Franzen translation. The fact that this exists feels almost too good to be true.
Ellie
Feb 03, 2017 Ellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much better than the musical I don't know why this version isn't preformed more. It tells the story so much more in depth and doesn't leave most of the story to the reader or in the musicals place viewers imagination.
Yvonne Kraak
Dec 22, 2016 Yvonne Kraak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For its age (+100 yrs old), the the themes in this very interesting play are still remarkaby valid & modern.
Ata
Feb 14, 2017 Ata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
superb
Anna
Jan 10, 2017 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, 2017
2.0
Emma
Having seen the west end production of this three years ago and enjoyed that, I thought it would be worthwhile to read the play to see what the storyline really was and how this was adapted to the stage. I have to say that the west end production was a fairly accurate reproduction of the story here with some further additions of their own for originality one can presume.

Whilst I did not find this story as shocking as perhaps it would have been when it was first published, I can certainly underst
...more
Nina (Death, Books, and Tea)

Review: Late 1800s Germany. Schoolboys and girls discover sexuality. It really does not go well. Among other things, Wedla Bergmann does not understand how babies are made, Moritz Stiefl is tormented by erotic dreams, and Melchior Gabor, having read about sex, now believes in nothing. In a series of scenes, we follow the teens as they try to navigate growing up.
You may have heard of the rock musical that got adapted from this play. It’s the controversial one that deals with rape, suicide, child
...more
Cori R.
At times too heavy, at times too light. Deserving of another read, maybe another translation. Sometimes the musical seems very far from the "source material," yet other times it seems a perfect fit.
Riley
Oct 30, 2015 Riley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written at a time when people were far more conservative than they are today, it is easy to see why this play was banned for so long. It is about a group of teenagers coming into adolescence and exploring their sexuality. Wedekind does not bother with only talking about a few aspects of this, instead tackling almost every aspect of teenage sexuality.

The play has a great message about the importance of communicating with the people in your life. In the story, a boy ends up taking his own life be
...more
Samantha
Feb 27, 2008 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: theatre lovers
I decided to read this book based off of my reaction to the musical theatre version of "Spring Awakening." Once I saw the musical on broadway and heard that the book was written in the 1800's by a German author, I knew I wanted to read it. I thought it would be interesting to see how the play compared to the musical so I went to the bookstore and got it. Once I began reading it, I noticed some different characters and also completely different dialogue than in the Broadway show. Here and there I ...more
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Benjamin Franklin Wedekind, usually known as Frank Wedekind, was a German playwright. His work, which often criticizes bourgeois attitudes (particularly towards sex), is considered to anticipate expressionism, and he was a major influence on the development of epic theatre.
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“The fog is clearing; life is a matter of taste.” 34 likes
“I didn't ask to be born, and I don't owe God anything.” 18 likes
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