We have nearly finished our first week of previews for Spring Awakening and oh my goodness, what a ride it’s already been! I know I promised some of you updates while I’m out here in New York, and I will do my absolute best to keep you in the loop with what’s going on over here via blogging.

So! We started previews last Tuesday, which means that we get to open up the doors to the Brooks Atkinson to excited audiences each and every night, while we still are technically in rehearsal mode. Cast & crew are called every day during the week to work on parts that need to be reworked, restaged, or need slight adjustments – and then they perform in the evenings. Honestly, it’s a pretty taxing schedule – but super vital, because once we officially open Spring Awakening on September 27, the show is frozen exactly how it is from that night to the end of the run! It’s been fun to continue to notice small changes here and there – and yes, I’ve been watching the show every night since Tuesday (woo!). We have roughly two more weeks of previews left before OPENING NIGHT ON BROADWAY!

In all seriousness, this show is the most painstakingly authentic, emotional, and inspiring journey I have ever been treated to in the theater (and I don’t say this lightly). I’ve closely followed this production since hearing the buzz about the initial workshop in L.A. over a year ago. It is not only so incredible to have seen this show triumphantly make it’s way to Broadway, but to also somehow have been given this chance to join in and contribute what I have, my interpreting and my passion for accessibility to this journey! My Children’s Theatre co-workers can absolutely validate how badly I wanted to find a way to contribute to Spring Awakening’s success because I would not, could not stop talking about it all summer (sorry not sorry). It also didn’t help that our Senior Intensive camp for our high school students this summer WAS Spring Awakening. It was everywhere. I sought out every single opportunity to somehow get connected with Deaf West, and I’m weirdly proud of myself for believing in myself this much (I almost didn’t send the last email I did to Deaf West – which finally lead to the conversation about this Interpreting Internship). It feels really amazing to be here and I get this feeling that there is something bigger yet to come. I am consistently humbled to be part of this deeply loving and genuine family that is making such BEAUTIFUL work, inviting so many hearing audiences in to consider and learn more about Deaf Culture, while also making incredible statements about #DeafTalent in the theater community around the world.

When TJ, our Stage Manager makes his pre-show and post-show calls, he also types it up for our Deaf actors to see on their monitors. Love this.
When TJ, our Stage Manager makes his pre-show and post-show calls, he also types it up for our Deaf actors to see on their monitors. Love this.
Necessary affirmation when walking up to the SM room.
Necessary affirmation when walking up to the SM room.

What exactly have I been doing since I’ve been here? Well! Your girl gets to assist Alice, our Associate Producer (she won the scholarship and I adore her) run our ASL/Spoken English Lottery (first ever in Broadway history!) before each and every performance. We have stellar volunteers from the Sign Language Center here in Manhattan come and teach mini-ASL lessons while people wait and I absolutely adore these volunteers! They are so full of life and so SPUNKY. The lottery hopefuls really enjoy learning from them and it is so fun to see baby signers in action. I may end up going to take a class or two at SLC on one of my days off. :) Then, during the show – I can either hang upstairs in the Stage Management room (aka the treehouse, because we’re allllll the way at the top of like, four flights of stairs) or snag a seat in the house and watch the show. I still am taking in all of the sign language translations, so I’m still incredibly eager to continue to watch the performances – but we’ll see how I feel about it come November. Ha! After each performance, the actors then can go greet the fans waiting outside by the stage door for autographs, pictures and affirmation. I try my best to float amongst our six Deaf actors Daniel, Sandra, Miles, Josh, Amelia, and Treshelle and make sure that I can jump in and help interpret if a fan is wanting to share more than just a “Thank you!” and “You were incredible!” It’s also been REALLY amazing to see how many fans have taken it upon themselves to learn sign ahead of time and it sincerely means so much to the actors to see that effort. I see it in their faces and it’s just really beautiful to witness that second-hand. :)

Someone also thought Daniel Durant and I were siblings and we laughed and were like “Nope”, but then both followed up with “But we’re from Minnesota!”. For those who took Doug Bahl’s Deaf Studies at Saint Paul College, remember the “Famous Deaf People” presentation Doug shared with us towards the end of the semester? I told Daniel about it and so wish I had brought my notes with me – Doug was so proud of Daniel for being a MSAD alum and then doing Switched at Birth – and this was pre-Spring Awakening, too! Gah. I’ll have to search for those notes when I’m back home because I do find it funny that I legitimately took notes on him and now we’re friends.

As exciting as all of this new journey is for me – I wouldn’t be completely honest if I told you that it all came super easy at first. The first few days of officially being an intern at Spring Awakening made me absolutely feel like a transfer student coming in at the middle of a semester and having zero friends. Almost everyone in the cast has been together for over a year now, so they are such a tight-knit family. My main contact for my internship is DJ Kurs, the Artistic Director of Deaf West, and he has been in and out of the theatre constantly – so when I’m not directly doing something related to interpreting, I’m pretty much on my own. Friday night, actually – I was watching the show and feeling so conflicted because I was still wanting to just make friends with everyone and just hang out and get to know them. I’ve realized that I really thrive on living in community, and my first few days in NYC were essentially just me doing things on my own all-day long. When Friday came, I really started to resign to the fact that this may just be what Broadway was going to be like, and started to really miss my Minnesota theatre community – then Josh Castille (Ernst) caught my attention after Stage Door duties were done and just straight up said “Do you have a Facebook?” and my whole heart just burst. He is the sweetest! This may absolutely seem kind of trivial, but I was really trying hard to keep my focus as an interpreting intern be as professional as possible, and let the actors start to let me into their world before I bombarded them with OMG LET’S HANG OUT feelings. We got to go out for drinks after our crazy two-show Sunday & Guilty Ones fan-club meet and greet with 200+ fans (omg) and I loved loved loved it. Josh also led a “we want to know all about our interpreters when they work with us, so you have to tell us all about yourself” moment and I laughed hard. They’ve been really fantastic to me so far. I really dig these actors and I am so overjoyed to see them get recognition in New York and to be able to show the world that they CAN play roles that were not specifically written as Deaf roles. They are beyond capable, they are so humble, and they are MESMERIZING (honestly). They so deserve this!

What else do I want to leave you guys with? Bitch of Living, Mirror Blue Night, Totally Fucked, and Song of Purple Summer are absolutely incredible. The sound system here is INSANE for a reason and I’m really digging that. Lights are so mesmerizing, especially during Totally Fucked. I just want you all to see this.

Oh, and surprise – this Spring Awakening revival was the very first Broadway show I’ve ever seen. Shocking, right? I kind of have felt like a musical theatre fraud for most of my life, until now. I like that this is my first show, though! Michael Arden’s genius is setting the bar so high.Β Off to another two-show preview day! Missing you all so much. COME TO NEW YORK!

All my love,

Rachel

Nightly Stage Door views.
Nightly Stage Door views.
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