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Spring Awakening: A Play

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  3,191 ratings  ·  170 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 For the better part of the twentieth century Wedekind’s intense body of work was largely unpublished and rarely performed.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
ebook, 112 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by Faber & Faber (first published January 31st 1891)
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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.
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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
Rosie Gaunt
German Frank Wedekind's seminal work is wunderbar in the most astounding way. Disturbing, yes. Groundbreaking, yes. Still as disturbing and groundbreaking today as it was when it was published in the late 1800s. The play is a spitting attack on the oppression of teens at the turn of the century, a concentrated and venomous fin de siecle commentary, which was banned asap, and quel surprise Germany, and indeed other countries continued to oppress sex. This is a play that everyone needs to read tho ...more
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
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
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
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
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
The version I read is actually translated by Jonathan Franzen, and that's perhaps why I'm not a huge fan as Franzen seems to me--and this is having only read non-fiction essays and memoir by the man--among the most pretentious and condescending writers I have ever read. Franzen elected to keep all of Wedekind's idiosyncratic punctuation, which I appreciate because, y'know, authorial intent, but the result is a series of over-long, choppy speeches that are difficult to imagine in actual performan ...more
Nina at 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
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.
Featuring abortion, suicide, a homosexual kiss and some masochism this play about German teenagers first published in 1891 is frequently still controversial when staged.
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.
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.
This play has it all: teenage sex/rape, abortion, masturbation, homosexual acts, suicide, bad grades!!! And it's all the grown-ups' fault!!!
Will Walton
The Franzen translation. The fact that this exists feels almost too good to be true.
I read an edition translated into English by Jonathan Franzen. On the one hand, he put me off so much it was hard to rate this five stars. In his introduction, Mr. Franzen starts by telling a bit about the life of Frank Wedekind. That's innocuous enough -- and quite interesting! But then, he goes on to COMPLETELY bash the hit Broadway musical. He insults it in every way imaginable, just tearing it apart. Then he insults the audience, other people's interpretations of the play, and even other tr ...more
Henry Hardwick
One of the most amazing aspects of Spring's Awakening is that the subject material that gained it notoriety in 1891 has allowed it to remain relative to this very day. While it was miraculous to have stumbled upon this play through its modern musical adaption, the everlasting taboos of atheism, deviancy, domestic abuse, homosexuality, rape, and suicide are paired alongside the façade of a politically correct society of academic rigor, childish curiosity, morality, and unrequited love in order to ...more
Nov 26, 2009 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: German Students, German teachers, literature students
Recommended to Michael by: Dr. Steven Fuller
Shelves: drama, german
This "children's tragedy" was shocking for its time and not performed uncut for many decades. It deals with issues of teenage sex and suicide that are today commonplace on tv afternoon specials, but points the finger at an older generation that tries to preserve innocence through ignorance of the facts of life, and thereby ruins lives. The young heroine, Wendla, dies from an attempted abortion because her mother tells her that only married women can become pregnant. Young Moritz commits suicide ...more
This time my reading experience was different.
Usually, the original writing style weighs more than anything for me. This fact has a simple explanation: themes and ideas are rarely original and truly genuine; that is why the manner, the approach, the attitude, the design (of writing) is more important.

”The Awakening of Spring” is special as way of communicating information. It has educational purposes acknowledged by reader through a series of life experience examples in very young people (age
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Qi Yin
Oct 30, 2008 Qi Yin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adult
Recommended to Qi Yin by: School
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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
I quite wasn't expecting to like just way I did. And this is kind of strange, because I've been saying this a lot lately.
I said "like", but let me explain myself. It wasn't just because of all the dark-funny moments and the subjects that are also so real now days. But it's written so beautifully and it's full of irony and it's raw and mean and also true. So true that it made me sick in my stomach after finishing it. But it was a good feeling, though.
I had to go back to check the last line I've
Am Anfang hatte mich das Stück von Wedekind etwas irritiert. Immerhin wird es eine Kindertragödie genannt. Die dann aber erst mit dem voranschreitenden Ende wirklich ans Licht kommt.

Ich muss sagen, dass es mir schwer fällt, über dieses Werk eine Rezension zu verfassen. Der Inhalt ist nicht ganz einfach und zu viel möchte ich ja auch nicht verraten.

Frühlings Erwachen erzählt scheinbar zunächst von der Pubertät einiger Jugendlicher, die sich immer größeren Problemen ausgesetzt sehen, bis sie schli
Notes prior to reading: I was first introduced to Spring Awakening when the musical came out. I've been familiar with its music for some years now, and actually got to see it live at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as performed by an American high school. At the same Festival, I got to see the actual play as it was originally written by Wedekind. I liked the musical, how it dealt with heavy themes like sexuality and identity and was curious to see how much it differs from the original play, the t ...more
Keith Moser
After recently seeing a regional production of Steven Sater & Duncan Sheik's musical Spring Awakening, I felt I should go back and read the banned text it was based on.

Very interesting to see the musical I've seen twice (and listened to dozens, if not hundreds of times) in a simple play format. Most of the beats and set pieces are there with a few extra characters or scenes that had to be cut. The play is very episodic and I have a hard time imagining it without the music. Half the taboo sce
Lacey N.
I read Spring's Awakening after seeing its most recent incarnation as a pop-rock musical co-written by Duncan Sheik at the Kennedy Center. The musical is serious and brooding, taking the angst-ridden guilt of its teenage characters to heart, equal parts Conor Oberst (angsty, brooding) and Britney Spears (delicious pink bubble-gummy sex). How did this happen, especially when Frank Wedekind's original play, despite its dark themes of rape, sado-masochism, homosexuality, physical abuse, botched abo ...more
There are a number of translations from the original German play, but the version I read was the most recent by Jonathan Franzen in 2007. His introduction was brilliant and included some interesting insights to the Broadway musical released the year before.

Spring Awakening is a demanding read because of the heightened language, and the way that Wedekind has his characters go on and on about topics that don't seem relevant at the time, and only sometimes come to fruition. Minimal stage directions
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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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