NUI Galway to Stage World Premiere of New Adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening

Erin (Delia Keane) and Andy (Ailish McDonagh) in Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play.
Mar 19 2019 Posted: 10:39 GMT

NUI Galway Drama and Theatre Studies students frankly address themes of sexuality, consent and mental health for contemporary audiences

Third Year Drama and Theatre Studies students will perform the world premiere of a newly devised adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s classic ground-breaking 19th century coming-of-age play Spring Awakening from 21-24 March at NUI Galway’s O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance.   

Initially banned from the stage and censored throughout the 20th century in Europe and North America, Spring Awakening’s frank and haunting treatment of adolescent sexuality, depression, suicide and academic pressure has been an artistic and social lightning rod since its early 20th century German premiere.   

Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play transposes the action of the play to a contemporary Irish context and follows three young people, Dougie (Daniel Granahan), Alex (Conor Gormley) and Clara (Aine Cooney), and their immediate circle of friends and family during an eventful spring. The pressures of academic study and sexual discovery overwhelm the three friends’ ability to navigate the challenging circumstances that they each find themselves in, leading to individual and collective tragedy. Has Ireland come as far as we think it has? How should we understand the ongoing mental health crisis among young people? And if someone commits an unforgivable act, how should their story end?

Devised entirely by Third Year Drama and Theatre Studies students, and directed by Dr Charlotte McIvor from NUI Galway, with movement direction by Jérèmie Cyr-Cooke, Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play tests the boundaries between the real world, our imagination, and somewhere beyond while asking what it means to face up to the issues which define young people's discovery of self over generations.  

Dr Charlotte McIvor, Drama and Theatre Studies lecturer and SMART Consent researcher, says that she was moved to do this play because: “Unfortunately, Spring Awakening has never stopped feeling contemporary, particularly with the epidemic rates of mental health struggles that I’ve observed as an educator within this generation of young people over the last decade. However, as a member of the SMART Consent research team at
NUI Galway, recently funded by the Lifes2good Foundation to undertake a four-year programme which targets young people from 16-23 years of age in order to promote a positive approach to the important issue of sexual consent, I am optimistic about the role of the arts as a powerful tool in encouraging dialogue around sexuality in particular.” 

Dr McIvor adds:Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play explores the experience and aftermath of a sexual assault from the perspective of not only the young people involved, but their community. However, our adaptation of this play also portrays positive sexual explorations by members of the young ensemble, particularly through a storyline of two young women who fall in love for the first time.  Our play hopes to portray young people’s experiences of negotiating consent for the first time in all its complexity, and from not only dark but also hopeful perspectives.”

The student ensemble collaboratively reimagined the theatrical text together between January and February 2019 by studying and responding to translations and adaptations of the play from throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. These ensemble members take on acting, design and technical roles in the production.

The ensemble group says: “Being involved in Transitions has been the biggest undertaking of our degree, but also the most rewarding. There is only so much you can learn as a drama student by studying those who came before you; there comes a point where you have to put yourself out there and make your own theatre. Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play truly belongs to the ensemble. The play is littered with pieces of ourselves, our experiences, and our shared beliefs. We have fallen in love with this play and we are all beyond proud of the standard we have achieved across the board in terms of writing, acting, and production. To be given the opportunity to work in a professional capacity, with the expert guidance of Charlotte McIvor and Jérèmie Cyr-Cooke, has been such a valuable experience. Being able to say ‘we made this’ is something we will forever treasure, no matter where our future careers may take us.”

Ensemble members include Coralie Blanchard, Cadhla Boyle, Aoife Maynard Collins, Aine Cooney, Alice Cunningham, Megan-Jane Devlin, Ross Gibbons, Claudia Glavey, Conor Gormley, Delia Keane, Emily-Jane MacKillop, Ailish McDonagh, Danielle McElroy, Daniel Murray, Shannon O'Flynn, Lucy Pollock, Molly Underwood.

Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play will be performed at 8pm on the 21, 22, and 23 of March with a 2pm matinee on 24 March. General admission tickets are €5 (with additional handling fee). There will be a post-show discussion with members of the ensemble on Thursday, 21 March following the 8pm performance.   

Bookings at: (search for Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play) or

Keep up with preparations and rehearsals of Transitions: A Spring Awakening Play:

Behind the scenes video footage of the play:


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