JEFFERSON — The tragic story of Anne Frank will be told in an upcoming encore performance of Jefferson’s East Texas Performing Arts production, “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
Originally launching in 2021, Jefferson’s East Texas Performing Arts has now announced new show dates for its production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which will run July 1-3 at Marshall’s Memorial City Hall.
The room is scheduled to open at 7:30 p.m. on July 1. Other show times include 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on July 2 and 2 p.m. on July 3 at Memorial City Hall, located at 110 E. Houston St. in Marshall.
The play is directed by Sara Whitaker, with the cast of Karl Frederickson, Atticus Upton Lewis and Emma Pierce returning to reprise their roles.
Whitaker has previously said she hopes the piece serves as a reminder of what happens when the lessons of history are not heeded.
“This is a historical account of two families who went into hiding in 1942 and lived in an attic in Amsterdam for over two years,” Whitaker previously said. “It was the Frank family and their business associates the Van Dammes and their teenage son Peter.”
Both were real Jewish families living during Adolf Hitler’s roundup and mass murder of Jews and any other race he considered inferior. The Frank family consisted of father Otto Frank, mother Edith Frank, older sister Margot Frank, and younger sister Anne Frank.
“Anne received a diary at 13, and it became her lifeline, her best friend, the one she could share her secrets with, and by the grace of God, when the Nazis found these two families hiding in the attic after two years, Anne left her diary behind, saying, “I’ll be back to see you again,” Whitaker said.
Miep Gies was a sympathizer during the Holocaust, who together with another person brought food to the Frank and Van Damme families and served as a link to the outside world.
“After the war Otto was the only survivor, and he came back to the attic to say goodbye and Miep said, ‘I have papers and Anne’s diary,’ and in much anguish and pain, Otto said, ‘Burn them’, but Miep replied, ‘But I have Anne’s diary,'” Whitaker said. “He opens the last link, the last thing left of his daughter, and thank goodness , it has survived the test of time, and now we have a tale of what these two heroic families have been through – their suffering, their will to survive, and their will to make the best of a tragic and horrific situation.
The play will cover the two years the two families spent hiding in the attic of a working business.
“When we meet Anne, she’s still very childish and bouncing off the walls, and she’s in everyone’s business and gravitates towards the center of attention and has no filter,” Whitaker said. “It’s also a coming-of-age story, because when the Nazis knock on the door and tell the families they have five minutes to gather their things, Anne is 15 and she’s calm and composed and she is truly a woman – aware of what is happening and what is in front of her.
Whitaker said the play follows all the real-life characters who helped the two families hide for two years, as well as a newcomer they took in and rescued when he was already low on food and supplies. ‘space.
“The piece is also interesting from a theatrical point of view because of the sound effects that surround them. The attic was above a working business so from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday there were customers and people coming in and out downstairs so families couldn’t move or use the toilet – they had to whisper,” she said. “The amount of stress and strain these people were dealing with was incredible.” You can also imagine that every time they heard a car stop or shouts from the street or boots in the street, their hearts jumped in their throats. They also couldn’t go out in the sun or breathe fresh air.
In order to better understand the fate of the characters they play, Whitaker said the ETPA board sponsored a trip to Dallas for the actors to visit the Holocaust museum.
Whitaker said one of the reasons she chose the part was because two of her ETPA actors are teenagers who have been best friends since kindergarten, Emma Pierce and Atticus Upton-Lewis.
“They have a really strong bond. I was looking for pieces that highlighted a young male/female relationship and this piece popped up,” Whitaker said. “Emma plays Anne Frank and Atticus plays Peter Van Damme.”
Whitaker said the deciding factor that made her decide to present the play was the shocking and disappointing return of anti-Semitism in America and Europe.
“With the surprising rise and violence of anti-Semitism in the West, even in our own country, with synagogues and the Jewish people being targeted, with the boycotting of Israel on college campuses – it is shocking to me to see the rise in anti-Semitism, the level of hatred of the Jewish people again and it’s alarming,” Whitaker said. “Miep just died 10 years ago, so it’s alarming how recent this all was – that was literally a generation ago and we have a whole generation of young people who are completely unaware of the Second World War, of what our soldiers went through, of the suffering that the Jewish people endured in the concentration camps , and they’re not emotionally prepared to hear it, yet it’s our story.
Whitaker said that although she was not inside a concentration camp, she did approach one and learn a disturbing historical fact about Germans during the Holocaust.
“I spoke to some locals there outside of Munich and they told us how so many Germans had to or voluntarily turned a blind eye to what was happening in their country,” Whitaker said. “When they saw the ashes from the nearby crematorium, they were told it was ashes from a nearby factory and they didn’t ask questions. When the Jews saw the ashes, they were told, ‘Look, there are your ancestors.’ But I couldn’t ask my actors to understand the suffering or the brevity of the situation, the story and the play without visiting the Holocaust museum, so it will be a difficult and wonderful experience for all of us.
Whitaker said the play is suitable for ages 12 and up.
“You think about the violence that kids see in video games and listening to music and that’s history and reality,” she said. “These people really existed and they had to give up their dreams and aspirations to survive.”
“But I want to say something about the bold hope of the Jewish people. The actors and I have been talking about this lately, why was there such hatred for Jews and Hitler wanted to eradicate them completely. I am a born-again believer, so I love the Jewish people,” she said. “The Jews are a special people and they don’t worship the gods of this world, they worship the God of Israel. They have this audacious, unearthly hope that despite death. They are a precious and special people and it is difficult to understand why there is such hatred of the Jewish people who just want to live in their own country and live in peace.