THE STORY: First performed under heavy censorship in Germany in 1906, Frank Wedekind’s play closed after one night in New York in 1917 amid public outrage and charges of obscenity. The play’s content was radical indeed: teenage sex, suicide, abortion, masturbation, sadomasochism. But even more radical was the unsentimental and brutally authentic comedy with which Wedekind treated it. The story traces the dawning sexual awareness of four teenagers, Melchior, Moritz, Wendla, and Hansy, who, in their painfully funny contradictions—they are at once too innocent and not remotely innocent at all—remain fresh and unsettling even in our own sex-saturated culture.
“Excellent translation.” —Stage Directions. “It’s a great play to shock the adults with on parents’ weekend.” —Library Journal. “SPRING AWAKENING is the best play ever written about teenagers, and Jonathan Franzen’s fraught yet buoyant translation is the best I’ve ever read. In a culture where lies about adolescence prevail, this funny and honest play is more relevant than ever.” —Christopher Shinn, playwright. “Franzen here has navigated his way between the viciously comic satire and puling lachrymose melodrama (this latter quite deliberate on Wedekind’s part, reflecting the puling lachrymose self-regard of arrogant adolescence) quite well, even brilliantly at times, and his grasp of the play’s comedy, particularly in Act 3 Scene 1, is exquisite.” —George Hunka, playwright.