Response to Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Class: Designing for Live Performance
Instructor: Andrew Lazarow
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical premiered on Broadway at the Belasco Theater in New York City in 2014, based on the book by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask.
Asking Elinor Fuchs' questions to "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
* First Things First:
1. What is space like in this planet? This planet is set in real human world, starting in Germany before the Berlin Wall Fall, then moving to the United States. In addition, from listening to the music, the musical has a strong rock-and-roll theme to express anger and strong feelings of the character going through unfortunate incidents and disappointments in her life. Meanwhile, the story is also about the struggle and final discovery of self-identity, I can imagine the space that would be full of colors to represent different identities, self-expression as well as the rock-and-roll free spirit that also comes through in the musical's story.
2. How does the time behave in this planet? Time moves between different points in the present (90's) and the past to tell the story and journey of the main character.
3. Climate? Seasonal feel? Nothing stood out to me particularly about seasonal climate. However, the planet seems to primarily evoke a dark, cold feeling of an ignorant world yet burning with anger and resentment at the same time. At times, there are moments of warm feelings of feeling of pity, love but also hope. You can almost feel them from the songs and the lyrics.
4. Mood? Tone? Music, Sound? The overall mood and tone are a mix of harsh, extreme anger, but also a warm, burning desire for love and understanding. Monologues when telling the story of Hedwig often feel sarcastic and bitter. The language is strong to express disappointment and anger. These moods and tones also come through in those more up-beat rock songs in the musical. Some examples include Angry Inch, Exquisite Corpse etc. These moods encourage the audience to reflect on their own stories of identity discovery and overcoming hardships, regaining strengths and the success.
5. What changes in this world?
- The attitudes/tone: from confusion and doubt about self identity, to anger and pain while facing hardships and disappointment, to warm self-care, hope and discovering self, forgiveness and a proud triumphant tone at the end.
- Space and time: Germany to America, from reality to possibly within the more abstract, imaginary space of the character's mind through monologs, time switching from the present and the past while also giving a celebratory hopeful vision of the future.
* Social World:
1. Public world or private? This world is a very private world of Hedwig. It is her own story, told by herself, from her perspective.
2. Patterns that characters arrange themselves? Hegwig is the center of the story. The other . characters belong to her story. As one story after another is being unveiled, each character has their own interaction with Hedwig and their own role in that particular part, or phase in her journey. One by one, each of the supporting character helped to unfold layers of Hedwig's physical and emotional transformation journey to finding her own identity and taking back what belongs to her. The other characters surrounds Hedwig as the center of the storyline.
3. How do figures appear? The characters appear to be just ordinary people in a society. However, they are shaped by the specific social, political situation in different locations at that time of the story.
4. How do figure dress? I would imagine the characters dress would reflect the 90s, simple yet colorful. The rock-and-roll style as well as live performance costumes should be present whenever Hedwig appears.
5. How do figures interact? Mostly via conversations, singing songs together in conversation-like interaction.
6. Who has power in this planet? In answering this question, there are 2 ways I can interpret the character with the power in this planet. It is the world versus Hedwig and Hedwig versus herself. Towards the beginning of the musical, Hedwig is bombarded with hardships, disappointments in life by the world. But, in the end, she gained back her power to stand up and take back what belongs to her, which I think demonstrates a clear shift in power. In the second interpretation, I imagine the fight for power of Hedwig versus her own self, her own identity. During journey, Hedwig may have given in to the perception of her identity, but towards the end, she is able to take charge, claiming her unique identity, her success and the pride that comes with it to the world. That can also be seen to represent the power gain or shift by the main character.
7. Language habits? What kind of feelings? Strong sarcasm, dramatic, exaggerated, philosophical.
1. What has this world demanded of me? I feel that this world asks me for a helping hand to lift up the fighting spirit, encouraging self pride, while promoting a spirit of freedom to express oneself and to live one's life as who and what they are no matter what hardships in life. I am being asked to also evoke questions to the public audience who are still new and skeptical about such topics today and help tell the story that represents many other similar stories which haven't been told and need to be told to the world.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a story about freedom
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch is about quest for identity and celebration of living such identity.
- Hedwig is about the freedom of self-discovery, self-defining and self-expression.