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Spring Awakening

Frank Wedekind
Translated by Tom Osborn
London House
243-253 Lower Mortlake Road
Surrey TW9 2LL
United Kingdom
Spring Awakening rst published in German as Frhlings Erwachen in 1891
This translation rst published by Calder and Boyars in 1969
This revised edition rst published by Oneworld Classics Ltd in 2011
Translation Tom Osborn, 1969
Printed in Great Britain
ISBN: 978-1-84749-188-6
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or
by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or other-
wise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. This book is
sold subject to the condition that it shall not be resold, lent, hired out or
otherwise circulated without the express prior consent of the publisher.
Act One 5
Act Two 25
Act Three 47
Spring Awakening
The scenes take place in a provincial town in Germany from spring to
winter 1892.
(A living room. WENDLA and MRS BERGMANN are trying on a
new dress)
WENDLA: But its so long, Mamma. Why have you made it so
MRS B: You are fourteen now, Wendla.
WENDLA: Well, I dont want to be fourteen not if it means
youre going to make me a dress like this.
MRS B: I dont think its too long at all. We cant help it, darling,
if you must grow another two inches each year. You cant
go on wearing a little girls frock now youre growing up.
WENDLA: I think my little girls frock goes much better than
this. Do let me wear it once more, just one more summer.
Look at this thing, the way it trails along the ground its
a sack sackcloth Cant we hang it away till my next
birthday? Itll t just as well. Id only step on the hem and
tear it.
MRS B: I dont know what to say. You know Id like you to be
always just as you are now, my darling. So many girls are
fat and awkward at your age but not you And what
will you be like when the others just grow out of it?
WENDLA: Who knows? Perhaps I wont even be here at all.
MRS B: Wendla, where do you get these thoughts
WENDLA: Theyre not sad, Mamma.
MRS B: (Kissing her) My sweet love.
WENDLA: Its at night they come, when I lie awake. I dont feel
at all sad when I think them, and afterwards I sleep well.
Is it wrong, Mamma, to think about things like that?
MRS B: Well, well put your sack away, then, and you can change
back into your little girls frock. I can make it longer just
nicely sometime by sewing a ounce on round the edge.
WENDLA: Oh no, if youre going to do that I want to be a lot
bigger, at least twenty.
MRS B: Just so you dont get cold. I know this used to be quite
long on you
WENDLA: Cold now, with the spring here? Are you frightened
Ill catch a chill in the knees, Mamma? Thats feeble. You
dont feel the cold at my age specially not your legs.
And being too warm would be just as bad. Who knows
one day Ill pull my sleeves off too youll see me in
the twilight bare feet and my legs bare If I ever wear
my sackcloth Ill be a fairy queen underneath. Dont be
cross, Mamma, no one will be able to see a thing, then.
MELCHI OR: Im bored with this. Im stopping.
GEORG: Then well have to stop too. Have you done your home-
work, Melchior?
MELCHI OR: You can go on.
MORI TZ: Where are you going?
MELCHI OR: For a walk.
ERNST: Itll soon be dark.
LAMMERMEI ER: What about your prep?
MELCHI OR: I like walking in the dark.
HANS: Central America Ludwig the Fifth sixty verses of
Homer seven quadratic equations
MELCHI OR: To hell with prep.
GEORG: Theres that Latin to do by tomorrow.
MORI TZ: You cant think of a single thing without prep
LAMMERMEI ER: Im going home.
GEORG: Me too. To do my homework.
ERNST: Me too, me too.
HANS: Good night, Melchior.
MELCHI OR: Sleep well.
(All go except MELCHI OR and MORI TZ)
Id really like to know what were supposed to be doing
in this world.
MORI TZ: What are we supposed to be doing at school? Id
rather have been a carthorse. Id like to know what exams
are for. So they can fail us. Seven of us have got to fail
anyway, the next classroom only holds sixty Ever since
Christmas everythings felt strange Im so separate
God, if it wasnt for Father Id just go away, pack up my
rucksack and go off walking.
MELCHI OR: Lets talk about something else.
(They walk)
MORI TZ: A bird ew in through my window this morning.
That means bad luck of some sort.
MELCHI OR: Dyou believe in all that?
MORI TZ: I dont really know. It ew out again without going
round the room. I think that makes it all right.
MELCHI OR: Its as bad as religion. Like Scylla and Charybdis.
You think youre safe, sailing untouched past the Scylla
of all that religion nonsense, and theres the Charybdis of
omens and superstitions waiting to suck you down. Lets
sit under this tree. Theres a warm wind blowing down
from the hills. All the snow must be melting. Thats where
Id like to be now, up there all night in the treetops rock-
ing and swaying in the wind.
MORI TZ: Undo your collar, Melchior.
MELCHI OR: Yes, let the wind in.
MORI TZ: Its getting so dark. I can hardly see you, Melchior
dyou think the feeling of shame in man dyou think
its because of his upbringing?
MELCHI OR: I was thinking about that only the other day. Its
deeply rooted in human nature. I mean if you think of
yourself with nothing on undressing in front of your best
friend. You wouldnt do it. Not unless he was undressing
at the same time. Of course convention must have a lot
to do with it.
MORI TZ: If I ever have to bring up children Ive worked out
what Im going to do. Theyll all live together in the same
room, boys and girls, all sleep in one big bed. They could
help each other to dress and undress. And when the warm
wind comes all theyll need to wear is a short tunic plain
white with a leather belt. If they grew up like that Im
sure theyd be less ashamed than us.
MELCHI OR: Fine. And tell me what youll do when the girls
have babies?
MORI TZ: What dyou mean, have babies?
MELCHI OR: Dont you think thered be a certain instinct at
work? Suppose you took two kittens a boy and a girl
and shut them away left them. Sooner or later youd
have a litter on your hands, wouldnt you, even with no
grown-up cats to show them how.
MORI TZ: I suppose with animals it just happens.
MELCHI OR: I think humans are just the same. Look here,
Moritz, those boys and girls of yours in the same bed
and then, out of the blue, out of the dark, the rst you
know effects of puberty Id give you any odds
MORI TZ: (Doubtful) Im sure youre right but all the same
MELCHI OR: And it wont be just the boys, you know. Not that
all girls are the same Probably you cant always tell
Oh its a safe bet. And youd have curiosity on your side.
MORITZ: Yes By the way I rather want to ask you something
MELCHI OR: All right.
MORI TZ: You will answer, wont you?
MELCHI OR: Of course I will.
MORI TZ: The truth?
MELCHI OR: Of course. Well, Moritz?
MORI TZ: Have you done that Latin composition yet?
MELCHI OR: You dont need to change the subject you know.
Theres no one here.
MORI TZ: Of course my children would be working, all day
long. Farming or in the garden, or strenuous games
gym, riding, rock-climbing. And theyd have to sleep on
the oor, or in the open, not in soft beds like us thats
what makes us weak Im certain we wouldnt dream,
sleeping rough.
MELCHI OR: Yes, Im sleeping in my hammock. Ive put my bed
away and I wont use it again till the wine harvests over.
Last winter I dreamt once I was whipping our dog. I
whipped him so much he couldnt move he was lying
there Thats the worst dream Ive ever had. Why are you
looking at me like that?
MORI TZ: So it has happened to you?
MORI TZ: What you said.
MELCHI OR: The effects of puberty.
MELCHI OR: Certainly.
MORI TZ: Me too
MELCHI OR: Ages ago.
MORI TZ: It hit me like a thunderbolt.
MELCHI OR: Have you dreamt?
MORI TZ: Just once. Quite short. Legs in knitted stockings
bright blue rising up over my desk Actually I think just
climbing over. I only saw them for a moment.
MELCHI OR: Georg Tirschnitz dreamt about his mother.
MORI TZ: Did he tell you that himself?
MELCHI OR: Yes, why not?
MORI TZ: If you knew what Ive been through since that night.
MORI TZ: Guilt? No, no Ive realized what hell means and
if I died
MELCHI OR: Good God.
MORI TZ: It felt like some poison a poison from inside. I
started a journal: Ive written down my whole life. It was
the only thing that made me feel better. Honestly, Mel-
chior the Garden of Gethsemane must have been rather
like this
MELCHI OR: It didnt take me like that. It was a bit shaming,
but thats all.
MORI TZ: And youre almost a year younger than me.
MELCHI OR: That doesnt mean a thing. It can start at any age.
That blond lout Lammermeier, hes three years older than
us and Hans Rilow says he still dreams about fruitcake
and chocolates.
MORI TZ: How did he nd that out?
MELCHI OR: He asked him.
MORI TZ: I couldnt ask anybody that.
MELCHI OR: You just asked me.
MORI TZ: My God, yes, so I did. Perhaps Hans has written his
journal too. Honestly, life What a game Were pushed
into it, and then were expected to give thanks to God. I
didnt ask for all this. Why cant I just sleep, till the silence
comes back? My parents could have had any one out of a
hundred children and they got me. And I dont even know
how. Im just here being made to suffer because I didnt
stay away. Melchior dont you ever wonder I mean in
what way we manage to get here into this whirlpool?
MELCHI OR: So you really dont know then?
MORI TZ: How dyou expect me to know? All right, chickens
lay eggs, and I was told once that Mother carried me near
her heart. And I can remember being ve and looking the
other way when someone turned up that queen of hearts
with that low neckline. I dont have to do that any more
but nowadays I can hardly speak to a girl without feeling
as if Im loathsome and I dont know why
MELCHI OR: Ill tell you. Ive learnt all about it, from books,
from pictures, partly from observing nature. Itll surprise
you. I turned atheist. I told Georg Tirschnitz. He wanted
to tell Hans Rilow, but Rilow was shown everything long
ago by his governess.
MORI TZ: I looked at the whole of Meyers shorter encyclo-
paedia. Nothing but a lot of words, they dont tell you a
thing. Just shame. Whats the use of an encyclopaedia
that doesnt answer the real questions?
MELCHI OR: Well. Youve seen two dogs playing in the street
MORI TZ: No Dont go on, not now. Ive still got Central
America and Ludwig the Fifth, and then those sixty verses
of Homer and seven equations, and the Latin composi-
tion Id only do badly again tomorrow. If Im going to
keep working Ive got to be a carthorse an ox with
blinkers on.
MELCHI OR: Come home with me. Itll only take me an hour
for the whole lot. Ill put a few mistakes in yours and weve
nished. Then Mother can make us some lemon tea and
well settle down for a nice cosy chat about reproduction.
MORI TZ: I cant chat about reproduction, Melchior. No no,
couldnt you write it all out, everything you know clear,
unambiguous stick it in one of my books during break
and Ill take it home without knowing. One day itll just
turn up. So Ill have to look through it however much work
there is piling up. And if its absolutely essential you
could put a few diagrams in the margin.
MELCHI OR: Youre like a little girl, Moritz. Still, itll be an
interesting piece of work. You havent ever seen a girl, I
MORI TZ: Yes, I have.
MELCHI OR: All over?
MORI TZ: Completely. On Shrove Tuesday I slipped into the
anatomy museum. If anyone had caught me Id have been
expelled. It was like waking up on a new day everything
there, it was the truth such beauty
MELCHI OR: Oh. Well, then illustrations wont be necessary.
MORI TZ: No of course not Of course youve seen it
MELCHI OR: That time in Frankfurt, when I was there with
Mother last summer, one day. Youre going, Moritz?
MORI TZ: I must work Good night.
MELCHI OR: See you tomorrow.
(THEA, WENDLA and MARTHA come along the street arm in arm)
MARTHA: Are your shoes wet?
THEA: Theyre soaking.
MARTHA: So are mine.
WENDLA: Doesnt the wind burn your cheeks.
THEA: Can you feel your heart?
WENDLA: Lets go on the bridge. Ilse told me the rivers nearly
over the wall. Its full of trees and bushes. The boys have
got a raft out. She said Melchi Gabor was nearly carried
off yesterday.
THEA: And hes a marvellous swimmer.
MARTHA: Hed need to be.
WENDLA: If he wasnt a good swimmer hed have drowned.
THEA: Your hairs coming loose, Martha, your hairs coming
MARTHA: Oh let it come. My hairs a big nuisance all day
and all night my hair. I cant cut it short like you, I cant
wear it loose like Wendla, I cant have a fringe. And all the
time Ive got to do it specially, because one of my aunts is
coming to visit.
WENDLA: Ill bring you some scissors tomorrow. In Scripture
youll recite Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart
in peace and Ill snip it off.
MARTHA: For Gods sake, Wendla, theyd beat me till the blood
came. Pappa would beat me and Mamma would lock me
in the coal cellar for three nights.
WENDLA: What does he beat you with, Martha?
MARTHA: I do think theyd miss me, though, if I wasnt there,
even a hopeless lump like me.
THEA: Oh Martha.
MARTHA: And youre allowed a blue ribbon, arent you bright
blue, to thread round the top of your petticoat.
THEA: Pink satin. My mother says pink goes best with my
jet-black eyes.
MARTHA: Blue goes like jewels on me. Youre so lucky. My
mother pulled me off the bed by my hair I fell on the
oor. She comes to pray with us each evening, you see
WENDLA: Id have run away long ago.
MARTHA: There you are she was shouting at me thats
just what I mean there you are but youll learn, youll
learn all right.
THEA: What did she mean?
MARTHA: I dont know.
THEA: Do you, Wendla?
WENDLA: Id have asked her.
MARTHA: I was screaming on the oor. Then Father came in.
He tore my petticoat right off me. I ran out to the front
door. What did I tell you? he was shouting too. I want-
ed to go out in the street like that, to show them
WENDLA: You didnt, did you, Martha?
MARTHA: It was too cold. Id got the door open. They put me
in a sack for the night.
THEA: I couldnt sleep in a sack.
WENDLA: I wish I could sleep in your sack for you one day.
MARTHA: They beat me too, you know.
THEA: Dont you suffocate?
MARTHA: My head stays out. Its tied under the chin.
THEA: And then they beat you?
MARTHA: Not always. Only for something special.
WENDLA: What do they beat you with, Martha?
MARTHA: Whatevers around all sorts of things. Does your
mother think its wrong to eat bread in bed?
WENDLA: No, she doesnt.
MARTHA: I still believe we mean something to them even if
they never say so. When I have children Ill bring them up
like weeds. Nobody bothers about weeds but they grow
thicker and higher than all the owers in our garden. They
dont need sticks to keep them up. Not like the roses. They
get more feeble every summer.
THEA: When I have children Ill dress them all in pink, pink
hats, pink dresses, pink shoes. Except their stockings,
theyll be jet black. And when we go out theyll walk ahead
of me in a column. What will you do, Wendla?
WENDLA: How do you know youll have children?
THEA: Why shouldnt we have them?
MARTHA: Aunt Euphemia hasnt got any.
THEA: Shes not married, stupid.
WENDLA: Aunt Bauer was married three times and she hasnt
got one.
MARTHA: Would you rather have boys or girls, Wendla?
WENDLA: Oh, boys, boys.
THEA: Id like boys too.
MARTHA: So would I.
THEA: Girls are a bore.
MARTHA: If I could choose Id never be a girl.
WENDLA: I think thats a matter of opinion, Martha. Every
day I think how happy I am being a girl. I wouldnt change
places with a prince. But I still only want boys.
THEA: That doesnt make any sense, Wendla.
WENDLA: Of course it does, because it must be hundreds of
times more exciting being loved by a man than by a girl.
THEA: Do you think Forestry Commissioner Klein loves his
wife more than she loves him?
WENDLA: Yes, I do think so. Kleins got self-respect hes
proud of himself because hes Forestry Commissioner but
thats all hes got. Mellita is full of joy because hes made
her into ten thousand times more than what shed be alone.
MARTHA: Youre proud, arent you, Wendla?
WENDLA: Theres nothing wrong with that.
MARTHA: I wish I could be proud like you.
THEA: Look at the way she walks, the way her head looks up
in the air thats pride all right.
WENDLA: Well I want to be a girl. If I wasnt a girl Id kill myself,
quickly, for the next time
(MELCHI OR passes by and waves to them)
THEA: Hes got a lovely prole.
MARTHA: Thats how I think of the young Alexander going to
school, with Aristotle.
THEA: Oh Lord, Greek history. All I know is Socrates lying
in his bath being sold a donkeys shadow. That was by
Alexander, wasnt it?
WENDLA: Hes supposed to be third best in his class.
THEA: Professor Breakneck said he could be rst if he tried.
MARTHA: Hes got a nice prole, but his friend has got more
dreamy eyes.
THEA: Moritz Stiefel? Hes so stupid.
MARTHA: Weve always got on quite well.
THEA: Hes embarrassing to be with. At Hans Rilows party he
gave me some chocolates. They were all melting. He said
hed forgotten them in his trouser pocket.
WENDLA: You know what? That time Melchi Gabor told me
he didnt believe in anything. Not in God, or a future life.
He didnt believe in anything more in the whole world.
(School. Tables with books. LAMMERMEI ER, HANS RI LOW,
LAMMERMEI ER: Hes going to catch it. Hell catch it one day
all right.
HANS: Just once too often
ERNST: I wouldnt be in his skin.
LAMMERMEI ER: Last day of term, too.
GEORG: Hes got a nerve all right, youve got to admit that.
(MELCHI OR comes in)
MELCHI OR: Whats going on?
LAMMERMEI ER: Wouldnt you like to know?
HANS: I wouldnt like to tell you
ERNST: God, no
MELCHI OR: If you dont say
GEORG: All right, Moritz Stiefel has got into the staff room.
HANS: In the staff room after the Latin class.
ERNST: He stayed back on purpose.
GEORG: He was behind me in the corridor. I saw him opening
the door.
LAMMERMEI ER: Yes, thats where hes gone I dont hope.
HANS: They must have forgotten the key in the lock.
ERNST: Unless he made a skeleton key.
HANS: I wouldnt be surprised.
LAMMERMEI ER: Hell be lucky to get off with a Sunday
GEORG: And a black mark on his report sheet.
LAMMERMEI ER: If he isnt kicked out.
HANS: Here he comes.
MELCHI OR: White as a sheet.
(MORI TZ comes in, very agitated)
GEORG: Moritz Moritz What have you been doing?
MORI TZ: Nothing Nothing.
HANS: Youre shivering.
MORI TZ: With a fever with my soul bursting hallelujah.
GEORG: Did they catch you?
MORI TZ: They promoted me! Melchior, Ive been moved up.
Whod have believed Id be moved up? I cant believe it!
Twenty times I read my name I couldnt believe it. My
name. Almighty God But there it was, there it was. Ive
been moved up (Smiling) I dont know whats happen-
ing Im oating on air Melchior, if you knew what Ive
been through.
HANS: Congratulations, Moritz youve got some lucky stars,
getting out of there.
MORI TZ: You dont know, Hans you dont know the stakes
Ive been playing. For three weeks crawling past that door
Cerberus guarding the underworld outside. Then today
it was open. If youd given me a million pounds noth-
ing would have stopped me. Im there, in the room. I slam
open the register ash through the pages nd it and
all that time it makes my spine creep
MELCHI OR: All that time what?
MORI TZ: All that time the door was open behind. How I got
out down the stairs God alone knows.
HANS: Has Ernst Robel been moved up too?
MORI TZ: Yes, Hans, yes, Ernst is moving up too.
GEORG: Then you must have got something wrong. Im not
counting the dunces place, but with you and Robel we
make sixty-one and that room up there cant hold more
than sixty.
MORI TZ: I did not get it wrong. Ernst Robel is moving up just
like me. All right, its only provisional and next term will
decide one of us gets the place. Im sorry, Robel. But Im
not worried any more. This time Ive really looked too far
into the abyss
GEORG: I bet you ve marks you dont get the place.
MORI TZ: Youll lose. I dont want to rob you. God, now Ill be
working all right. Now I can tell you you can believe me
or not, it doesnt matter now I I know its true if I
hadnt been moved up, I would have shot myself.
GEORG: Thats just boasting. What a boaster.
LAMMERMEI ER: Hes far too much of a funk.
GEORG: Id like to see you with a gun.
LAMMERMEI ER: Heres a medal for you. (Hitting MORI TZ in
the face)
MELCHI OR: (Gives him one back) Come on, Moritz. Lets go
down to the river.
GEORG: You mean you believe in his rot?
MELCHI OR: Whats it to you? Let them talk, Moritz. Lets get
away from here. We want to start the holidays.