by Alex Milstein – firstname.lastname@example.org – Staff Writer
“Spring Awakening” packed the round of UNC Asheville’s Carol Belk Theatre on its opening night last Thursday.
Laura Bond, director of “Spring Awakening,” said opening night went very well.
“We’ve spent months delving into these characters and their stories, and we really tried to understand the nuances of these young people and adults, and what everything means,” Bond said.
She said her cast impressed her by handling the controversial material well and overcoming the challenges they faced.
“They really rose to the occasion, and it was tough,” Bond said. “It’s not just the sex scene, which most people focus in on, but also the violence. A lot of those moments were really tough for people to do.”
Bond said it took a while to feel comfortable while rehearsing.
“We had to be very sensitive to these issues, talk through hard topics and understand why it is important to portray these issues. Once the cast came to this understanding, they got more and more comfortable, as long as we did it in such a way that we could find a comfort level,” Bond said. “I do believe that we found that comfort level.”
Bond said this play is important to college campuses for several reasons.
“The content of the stories in this play must be heard. They are universal, and they are important to us all so that we can pay attention to how our youth are being communicated to,” Bond said.
“When I look at these kids and their stories, they are asking so many important questions, and they just want to have that dialogue, and that adult world is not allowing them to,” Bond said. “And so, to me, that reflects what I value about a college campus and what I value about education. It opens up dialogue about those things, and we value that. It is really about learning, listening and asking questions.”
Taylor Mitchell, who plays Melchior, the lead male role in “Spring Awakening,” said handling controversial material definitely took some time to get used to.
“You read about it, and it doesn’t seem that bad,” Mitchell said. “But then you have to do it in front of people that you know, and it’s a little embarrassing. But you kind of have to get over that a little bit.”
Mitchell said acting was a whole different experience compared to just reading the controversial material.
“It is a lot different when you’re performing it than when you are reading it through. Once you actually act it out, you kind of feel really vulnerable. Then you realize that what you are teaching other people is really important and it is fine,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he thinks “Spring Awakening” will really resonate with a lot of people.
“It will remind people of their experiences when they were young and growing up. As you get older, you realize what you might be doing as an adult, and how you might be treating kids,” Mitchell said.
“If you are young, you will have this cathartic experience and it kind of helps you get over the hump of being young,” Mitchell said. “And it is also a good perspective on how inner age groups interact.”
Nathan Singer, who plays Moritz, one of the boys in “Spring Awakening,” felt very secure and happy about opening night, considering the controversial issues.
“I think most people handled the controversy pretty well,” Singer said. “We all kind of knew what was going to happen early in the fall semester, so we researched our characters as much as we could over winter break and were all ready by the time rehearsals came around.”
“It was crazy good,” Singer said about the first rehearsal. “Everyone knew what they were getting into, and they all knew what they wanted. It all morphed pretty well, actually.”
He said the issues, looking from a societal point of view, try to show every aspect of what a normal person would go through in these situations.
“Whether internally or outwardly, it shows people that they should be truthful and honest. And if you aren’t, it could lead to consequences,” Singer said. “There are always good actions that can be taken, but sometimes you need to think about how that will affect other people.”