• Matt Powell

PROGRAMME NOTE: Spring Awakening (2018)

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

Published in the SPRING AWAKENING programme: over the next few days further writings will be published going into a lot more detail including some documentary feature and notes.

Spring Awakening was the first show that made me want to make theatre. And to be given that opportunity while that love and passion for the work is so alive is a true honour. When Ollie first approached me to choreograph and work with him on the show, a bunch of images and ideas came to life for the work presents itself as a blank canvas. The biggest thing on our part initially was creating the strong distinction between ‘real world’ and ‘song world’. Each number has it’s own unique design in style and in movement acts as the characters internal thoughts as the world around them freezes or passes by. We were inspired with the glare of neon and the electric contrast to nature this brought about which is heavily incorperated into the overall design.

This is my first time choreographing and in no way would I say I’m a trained dancer. The contemporary styling of the choreography allowed us to be heavily experimental. A few particular favourite numbers of mine are The Mirror Blue Night: combining light with movement in a simple yet effective manner and the integration of sign language in number such as Touch Me and Purple Summer (thanks to the incredible Milly Shawcross for her invaluable translations!) Using Sign created this silent, unspoken language which we’ve integrated throughout the piece to create a divide between the adults and children. The adults, fluent in ‘the truthful language’ that the children fail to translate echoing the ultimate downfall of the world: lacks of communication on important themes.

Initially with the world building, we had added a layer of projection to the piece which we removed due to cost. However, this presented a very fun challenge in creating physical interventions in the space to create these different locations. With a mixture of locations, subtle additions to the set allow our minds to be transported to these new locations. A particular moment we’re most proud of is Totally Fucked which, without spoiling it, is a complete change of set…

Spring Awakening further presents a challenge of staging intimacy on stage. The industry standards on this at present are lacking which is heavily surprising. Scenes of intimacy can be difficult for actors to perform and there are horrific case studies of actors and creatives feeling lasting damage on their wellbeing. I am thrilled to have trained with Ita O’Brien as she develops her Intimacy on Set Guidelines to provide best practice when working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content, and nudity in film, TV, and theatre. For more information on these, please visit http://www.itaobrien.com/intimacy-on-set.html.

Artistic ramblings aside, working on this production has been a career long dream of mine which I am immensely grateful for. Thank you to Ollie for taking the risk in staging this rare work. This project has been a labour of love for us both of which hours has been poured into. Our passion comes from the importance of bringing this work to life and I thank you all for coming to night to see this vital and moving work. A massive thanks to Tom Watkins for bringing the score to life and to the incredible cast for sticking with mine and Ollie’s insane ideas. Enjoy this crazy world that is Spring Awakening - M x