In part three of a series of interviews with the cast of Ovations Theatre’s Spring Awakening, meet Chloe Friedman and Meghan Carey who share the role of Martha Bessel.
Joel: What is your names, ages, high schools, and roles in Spring Awakening?
Chloe: My name is Chloe Friedman and I am 16. I go to James Hubert Blake High School and I play Martha in Ovations Theater’s production of Spring Awakening!
Meghan: My name is Meghan Carey, I am a 15 year-old at Walt Whitman high school and I also play Martha in Spring Awakening.
Tell us about your roles. What do you find most challenging or interesting about playing your characters?
Chloe: Martha is one of the hardest and one of the best roles I’ve ever gotten to play. Not only physically, but emotionally. Martha gets verbally, mentally, and physically abused by her father. Playing a character who is always fighting a battle either within her head or with her abuser is, as one can guess, very draining. Finding and portraying Martha is very strenuous, but very worth it.
Meghan: Martha Bessel is a young girl who is being sexually and physically abused by her father. One of the hardest things about playing Martha is understanding that she carries this weight with her through the entire show. When we’re singing “My Junk” she’s not only thinking about a crush, she’s thinking about an actual positive relationship in contrast to her life now.
The show touches on some difficult and some dark themes such as abuse, abortion and suicide. Why is it important for teenagers to portray these issues, and why is it important for audiences to see it?
Chloe: This show covers so many themes people would consider ‘taboo.’ In these ‘taboo’ topics there are lessons every person should learn and be aware of, especially teenagers. Abuse, abortion and suicide are not everyday occurrences, but they do happen. I think it’s so important teenagers know about these topics, especially if they can happen in real life. My high school went through two suicides in one month, and this show really helped guide me through the grief even if I didn’t know it.
Meghan: This show is incredibly striking and unique in its portrayal of these difficult subjects, but they are as important for the audience to see as for the actors to perform. Teenagers need to be able to perform shows like this; they are as relevant now as they were decades ago. This show is a perfect outlet for everyone, though teens specifically, who feel as if they are stuck between two worlds; forced to have the responsibilities of an adult but the naivete of a child. And of course, covering these issues can only cause real change if there’s an audience. People need to know and be touched by these subjects or nothing will be done to prevent them.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from working on the production?
Chloe: This production of Spring Awakening has taught me that communication is really the key of life. You can go through life and assume your way through everything, but without real knowledge you will always be stuck.
Meghan: The most valuable thing I’ve learned so far in this production is that the emotion for a character always needs to come from within you. It’s one thing to pretend to scream your head off about the problems of a 19th century German teenager; but it’s another to take your mom yelling at you and failing a math test and transform it into the emotion you need on stage.
How many shows have you worked on with Ovations Founder and Artistic Director Darnell Morris? What do you like most about working with him?
Chloe: Spring Awakening will be my twelfth show with Darnell! Working with Darnell is always a blast. He is so great at having fun, but also amazing at switching into director mode and getting ready to work!
Meghan: This is my second production with Darnell and he is already by far my favorite director. My favorite thing about working with Darnell is the way he shapes his creative environment. Darnell is a funny and relaxed guy, but is also able to pull intent and emotion from every actor in his company.
Many of the cast members have been performing together since they were 10 years old and now are upperclassmen in high school. How does this kind of close-knit community help foster growth, both artistically and personally?
Chloe: I’ve known Darnell since sixth grade, and about 6 years later I’m now in eleventh grade. Our group really has become a little family. I’ve made life long friends and every rehearsal feels like a family reunion! Of course I make new friends every show who I love, but there will always be a spot in my heart for the people I met 6 years ago. Our love for one another creates a safe place for everyone to be themselves and try anything out either theatrically or personally.
Meghan: I actually only joined this company a couple months ago, but already feel at home. This loving and welcoming environment encourages me to take risks as a performer and makes me feel safe as we cover these subjects.
What have you learned about yourself the actor and singer during your Spring Awakening experience?
Chloe: During this rehearsal process I’ve learned being an actor isn’t always figuring out the character. You also have to become them. I’ve never been beaten, but I learned how to get into the mind frame of Martha who has.
Meghan: Throughout this incredible process I feel like I’ve gained a sense of community with teenagers in general. I’ve obviously experienced or heard about some of the topics in this show, and this process has given me an outlet to talk about and understand them; and given me an understanding that all teenagers go through this.
Spring Awakening plays from December 2-4, 2016, at Ovations Theatre performing at The Kreeger Theatre JCC of Greater Washington – 6125 Montrose Road, in Rockville, MD. For tickets, purchase them at the door or online.
Meet the Cast ‘Spring Awakening’ at Ovations Theatre Part 1: Marjorie Long and Josie Weinberg.
Meet the Cast ‘Spring Awakening’ at Ovations Theatre: Part 2: Ethan Miller.
Meet the Cast of ‘Spring Awakening’ at Ovations Theatre: Part 3: Chloe Friedman and Meghan Carey.