Tonight, 35 members of the Schechter Westchester community, as part of the culture club, are going to see the Tony-Award Winning show for best musical: Spring Awakening. The play, containing many mature topics and explicit scenes, has elicited some controversy among the Schechter Westchester students, faculty, and kehilah.
Set in the late 19th Century, Spring Awakening is the story of teenagers finding their way through the confusion and hardships of adolescence, specifically teenage sexuality. The play follows two rebellious yet curious teenagers who defy the norms of their society, and along the way discover their minds, their bodies, and themselves.
The controversy surrounding the play results from the play’s adult themes, explicit language, sexual scenes, and brief nudity. “We knew the theme of the show would bring up a potential problem,” sophomore culture club leader Ariel Abergel said.
Yet despite its somewhat racy content, after some hesitation the administration decided that parent involvement would permit the club to attend: “The solution to that problem was to get parent permission and to specifically note the mature topics,” High School Principal Eric Bassin said.
The controversy was only one aspect of the play that enticed the club. “We chose to see Spring Awakening not only because of its popularity but also because it applies to adolescents,” Abergel said.
Another intriguing aspect of the play is its novel implementation of disabled actors: the show is the first to cast an actor in a wheelchair, and it also contains several deaf and blind cast members. “I think this teaches people that anyone can do anything,” said Bassin.
The faculty has mostly positive anticipations in regards to the play. “I’m really not anticipating any kind of difficulties,” school psychologist Dr. Bill Blank said. “I think the kids are going to be enthralled.”
The students of the culture club have similar anticipations: “I think it will be a lot of fun, I’m going to meet new people, have a good time, and I think it’s going to be an amazing show,” freshman Abby Jaeger said.
The culture club took the Metro-North train to the 7 PM start. Students and faculty paid for their own tickets at thirty-five dollars per ticket, and Schechter Westchester offered financial assistance to any student to whom attending would be a financial burden.
The culture club’s trip to see Spring Awakening extended the experiential learning aspect of a Schechter Westchester education, exposing students to the different realms of sexuality and adolescent culture in ways beyond the classroom.