Frank Wedekind himself in the role of the Masked Man in the original production of his play.
Tagged Posts: frank wedekind
Set design for the original 1906 production of Frank Wedekind’s play Frühlings Erwachen.
I just discovered that Gertrud Eysoldt was probably Ilse in the 1906 premiere of Spring Awakening. Here’s a picture of her in another Wedekind role— Lulu.
Frühlings Erwachen premiered in Berlin in 1906, directed by Max Reinhardt and starring Bernhard von Jacobi as Melchior, Alexander Moissi as Moritz, and Camilla Eibenschutz as Wendla.
Spring Awakening premiered in New York in 2006, directed by Michael Mayer and starring Jonathan Groff as Melchior, John Gallagher Jr as Moritz, and Lea Michele as Wendla.
Some pictures of playwright Frank Wedekind and his family.
He seemed like the greatest guy. If only I could ever thank him for Fruhlingserwachen. One day…
Sadly despite the happy pictures I believe his marriage, for example, was less than great :(
Some pictures of playwright Frank Wedekind and his family.
Project Gutenberg. Free e-books since 1971. I’m. Just. Saying.
Things you can find there relevant to my interests include translations of several of Wedekind’s plays (including Spring Awakening, though I haven’t read that translation yet to give an opinion on it) and translations of several of Gaston Leroux’s books (including the Phantom of the Opera, though I believe this is the less-than-stellar Alexander Teixeira de Mattos translation).
To finish up my spam…
I found these forever ago… from what I can tell/remember, they are from some… poems that Wedekind wrote that were divided by the seasons, and in the “Spring” section there are poems titled “Wendla” and “Ilse”. I believe the Ilse one most of us have heard before, but this is the only time I ever heard of one titled Wendla.
If you want to check out some other things I’ve shared relating to Wedekind and the early years of Spring Awakening, here are some old posts:
- Camilla Eibenschutz as Wendla
- Alexander Moissi as Moritz
- A quote from original director Max Reinhardt on why the play should be allowed to be shown
- Frank Wedekind and wife
- Frank Wedekind and daughters
- Quote from New York Times review of the play
- Scene from 1906 production
- 1906 set design
- A modern performance of Wedekind’s Ilse song
In the “vaguely related” category, here’s a picture of Frank Wedekind’s wife and daughters.
You know, there’s a crazy amount of foreshadowing that happens in the play. In the very first scene Wendla seems to foresee her own death, in Melchior and Moritz’s conversations they seem to predict that Melchior could be capable of beating and raping Wendla, Moritz keeps imagining himself…
Which brings up questions of determinism and destiny, things that can accompany a religious discussion as well. Are our fates set in stone by God? Is that something that Melchior would agree with? I’m inclined to think not, but then it’s entirely possible that the religious community he’s a part of may subscribe to that belief. That raises the question then of what Wedekind has to say about determinism, fates being set in stone, etc. Does the Masked Man represent a chance to change, to break free from all of that?
Does everyone who suffers from a predetermined fate do so because their community boxes them into their fate so that escape is nearly impossible/inevitable? That is, with the way that Melchior and Wendla are taught about sexuality, could there have been another outcome for their story? If they had gone to IHOP with the Masked Man, would things have been different? Theoretically they could have chosen a different path, an enlightened one, had they been shown that other paths exist.
I almost loled in class at “IHOP with the Masked Man.”
I think I’ve mentioned before (I’M SURE I HAVE, YOU KNOW ME) that, you know, the whole English class thing with arguing about what the author meant and if that is even relevant… with SA I think this is especially intriguing because you have the musical, where Duncan and Steven are re-imagining the story based on how they saw the play and what they personally took from it, and then the lingering question/argument about whether the musical is staying true to what Wedekind actually meant.
For example, I read an essay or something where someone was trying to make the point that in SA we’re meant by Wedekind to see Melchior as someone on his way to being an admirable manly man who rightfully has power over women vs the effeminate and ineffectual Moritz who should be pitied if not condemned — this sort of idea that though Wedekind was fighting against sexual repression, what he saw as being repressed was actually the natural right of men to indulge their sexuality (and the right of women… to satisfy men). As a fan of the musical, I see this theory as sort of ridiculous. As a modern woman, I see this theory as sort of disgusting. But the reality is this person made very legitimate points based on Wedekind’s life and other works and that interpretation could easily be true. There were apparently people in Wedekind’s time who saw the play that way — who felt that, say, Wendla got what she deserved in being raped because she was overstepping her bounds and tempting Melchior. While the musical is sometimes like modern commentary on the past, the play… wasn’t. It was still written in 1891 and still influenced by ideas of the time, even if it disagreed with a lot of mainstream ideas in a way that we find is sometimes surprisingly modern.
But, of course, if the musical is spreading a message which is worthwhile and is meaningful to its audience, does it matter what Wedekind meant? Does the musical have an obligation to stay faithful to the play? Even if it turns out the reality is that the play is a misogynistic mess while the musical is less so?
BUT BACK TO YOUR ORIGINAL POINT, yeah, we have little idea what Wedekind was thinking or what he meant for us to take from it and that’s what makes it both a joy and a little nerve-wracking to analyze. A joy because there is a lot to talk about and these subjects are important and still relevant in modern times, but nerve-wracking because… so many of us are discovering the play based on our love of the musical, and the more we look into the play the more we have to acknowledge that it’s possible this musical we love can be based on a story which was meant to carry messages we disagree with, and may have been written by a man whose personal life was less than admirable. Or maybe not. Hard to say.