Hedwig! An Exploration

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is a story about redemption.

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is a story about the redemption one can experience by letting go and lifting others.

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is a story about Hedwig, formerly Hansel, who escapes the communism of East Berlin by marrying an American Soldier (and suffering a botched sex change operation in the process). As Hedwig settles into her dreary life in the American midwest, she hears that the Berlin Wall has fallen and despairs that so much of what she’s lost is for nothing. She also meets a young boy named Tommy who she starts writing songs with, and eventually elevates him to a level of superstardom for which she gets none of the credit. While touring in the USSR, Hedwig marries another drag queen named Yitzhak to provide the same escape the American soldier gave her. Because Hedwig resents that Yitzhak’s talent exceed hers their marriage exists under the condition that Yitzhak may never dress in drag again. Yitzhak plays second to Hedwig throughout the play. The story ends with a feverish break during which Hedwig becomes Tommy, and ultimately lets go of so much of her resentment, passing the torch to Yitzhak and reigniting her hope. In doing so, Hedwig finds her peace.

Fuchs Does Hedwig

Space: The atmosphere Hedwig is cold, concrete and damp. It has the same grungy atmosphere of a dingy club on the Bowery in the 70s. Nothing about it is glittery except for Hedwig’s makeup.

Time: Time jumps from decade to decade in flashback format but always within the context of Hedwig’s memory.

Climate: Is post-apocalyptic. Cinderblocks and bombed out buildings come to mind. It’s chilly and damp so it feels like you can never really warm up.

Mood: Sardonic. Lecherous. Surprisingly funny.

Secret Spaces: Moments of surprising tenderness fleck the otherwise cold, blasé attitudes of our actors. The oven mentioned throughout the play is a literal secret space, as is the slab of concrete Hansel suns himself on in his days as a youth.

Tone: Blunt.

Word: This world is familiar, but with a darker perspective. It’s real, with elements of the fantastic.

Social Arrangement: Sex is social currency here, as is escape. Sex is also power.

Language: The moments of bigness here are in the songs. Truth, the tenderness mentioned above, the revelation of secret spaces of importance and the moments of actual love as well as the most salacious moments of sex all live in song. Our characters are guarded in spoken language. It’s the songs that betray them.

Change: Ultimately, our star achieves peace. Our beginning snapshot is of a cagey, hilarious, embittered Hedwig, who has been dealt one too many blows to keep it to herself anymore. She keeps Yitzhak around as a punching bag for her anger. Ultimately, Hedwig learns, after a subtle acknowledgement by Tommy of all she’s done for him, that she’ll get nowhere without letting go of what’s thwarted her. She encourages Yitzhak to do so, and ultimately finds her peace.

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