Studio 58 debuts on Jan. 31 with Spring Awakening, an award-winning rock musical, for a rather frank discussion about abortion, homoeroticism, rape, child abuse, and suicide. It explores the ups and downs of sexual awakening, self-definition and self-destruction as each character “overflows with need,” said Lauren Jackson.
Jackson plays the character Wendla, a curious 14-year-old girl in 1890 Germany. Wendla goes through a lot of changes in her body and gains new information about her world.
She begins to ask a lot of questions, feeding her curiosity.
Pushing the boundaries
“It takes a lot of courage to be curious and push limits,” said Jackson. “And Wendla goes after what she wants.”
Stephanie Izsak plays Ilsa, the abused outcast child. Her role in the play is to show what happens when you defy your parents, tell someone about the abuse, when you don’t “shut up and take it.”
Ilsa exists between adulthood and childhood, going through a journey to accept her lost innocence. From the process, she has a strong desire to master and understand her world.
“The reality is, life is dirty. Life is messy. Life is sexy,” said Iszak. “And Ilsa sees that sooner. She rises up and wears it as her own. She decides to wear her messiness. Wear her grittiness.”
A revolutionary play
This play was ahead of its time. Playwright Frank Wedekind wrote Spring Awakening between 1890 and 1891 but it was not produced until 1906.
Izsak said: “This was not an easy choice. The choice to tackle the beast that is Spring Awakening says a lot about Studio 58. It makes me very proud to go here and be able to work with people who make those kind of decisions. . . Those kind of decisions will help shape bold artists and they’re commendable, putting themselves on the line for us. We’re going to carry that forward.”
Reported by Deanna Cheng