HENRIK EGER, Professor of English and Communication, DCCC, Media, PA, USA. Bilingual playwright, born and raised in Germany, studied in Europe and the U.S. Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago (1991). German Translator of Martin Luther King’s Nobel Peace Prize mail. Producer-director: Multilingual International Shakespeare, London. Instructor of poetry writing workshops at Kerman University, Iran, and drama writing workshops for Indian writers. Philadelphia Judge: Barrymore Theatre Awards. Member: Board of Directors, Theatre Ariel, the Jewish theatre of Philadelphia. AAJT’s Philadelphia correspondent. Producer-writer: AAJT—The World’s Largest Secular Synagogue and Open University http .
PUBLICATIONS: 6 entries in Literary Exile in the Twentieth Century (Greenwood Press), including Else Lasker-Schüler and Stefan Zweig; WriteWrite Rewrite: Surrealistic Stories and Sketches, Dramas, and Dialogues (Goethe Institute, Bombay); conference presentations; articles in various outlets, including the Jewish Forward, New York; Philadelphia Jewish Voice and the Broad Street Review, Philadelphia. Books include The Image of “The German” in Selected English Short Stories, 1809-1974; Distortions: A Socio-Literary Study of Some Influences on the Production and Perpetuation of the Image of “the German” in English Literature; Who is Afraid of Noam Chomsky?; Iran Iran: Secret Poetry; Dissertation (UIC 1991): Writer Perception, Writer Projection: The Influence of Personality, Ideology, and Gender on Letters of Recommendation.
PLAYS include: (1) Metronome Ticking, docudrama, performed by the son of a Third Reich War Correspondent and the son of a Jewish Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camp survivor who became friends, performed in Germany, Austria, and the U.S. (2) Mendelssohn Does Not Live Here Anymore, based on Third Reich sources, showing anti-Semitism at work (3) The Girl on the Other Side of the Fence, based on two real people, Anne Frank and Karl Koehler, a German mailman who delivered packages around the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
(4) Alan Lost in Boston, historical play, based on Hawthorne’s anti-Semitism, Mark Twain’s impassioned defense, and the experiences of a Jewish teenager who challenges a Puritan minister in 1643.
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org , www.henrikeger.com
SHALOM ANNE FRANK
Shalom, Anne Frank, all the inhabitants of the attic, and everyone who was involved in one of the most extraordinary productions of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.
Anne, and all the inhabitants of the annex in Amsterdam, let’s present the historical facts. All the EgoPo actors in Philadelphia, let’s continue with your team spirit and ensemble work by listening to your experiences, your thoughts, and feelings preparing for the production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.
Together, let’s reach many readers of all ages, both here and abroad, who want to learn from one of the most painful subjects in human history through the profound recollections of a young girl.
This guide into the world of Anne Frank, like the secret annex, contains three parts:
1. Biographies of everyone hiding in the secret annex, plus Miep Gies—their lifeline to the outside world.
2. Important excerpts from the play, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.
3. Interviews with the actors, the artistic director, and others involved in the EgoPo production in Philadelphia.
May Anne Frank’s diary, one of the most widely-read books around the globe, encourage even more readers and theatre goers to study the past, observe the present, and reflect upon their own realities. May your honesty and creativity, like that of Anne Frank, contribute toward a better tomorrow, where we can learn to respect each other in our differences, and recognize that we have more in common than anything that might separate us—or, in Anne Frank words:
“Unless you write yourself, you can't know how wonderful it is. When I write I shake off all my cares. But I want to achieve more than that. I want to be useful and bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”
ANNE FRANK: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Anne Frank was born on 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Holländer. In 1933, the year the Nazis rose to power in Germany, the Frank family moved to Amsterdam. Anne, from an early age, demonstrated an affinity for reading and frequently wrote, although she often shielded her work with her hands and refused to discuss the content of her writing.
The German occupation of the Netherlands began in 1940, and although Anne and her sister Margot excelled in their studies and had many friends, the introduction of a decree that Jewish children could attend only Hebrew schools, forced their enrollment into the Jewish Lyceum. Few documents from that time have survived, among them the only known film-footage which shows Anne watching a wedding procession from a window of the Frank’s Amsterdam home.
For Anne’s 13th birthday, her father gave her a red-and-white checkered autograph book with a small lock on it, which she used as her diary.
In July 1942, because of the internment of Jews, Miep Gies and five other helpers moved the Frank family into a “secret annex”—the Achterhuis—a three-story space which one could enter only from a landing above the Opekta offices. This Achterhuis consisted of two small rooms with an adjoining bathroom and toilet on the first level, and above that, a larger open room, with a small room beside it. From this smaller room, a ladder led to the attic. The door to the Achterhuis was later covered by a bookcase to ensure it remained undiscovered. The Franks were later joined by the van Pels family and a dentist named Fritz Pfeffer.
While many of her early entries relate the mundane aspects of her life, Anne also discusses some of the changes that had taken place in the Netherlands since the German occupation. In an entry, dated 20 June 1942, she lists many of the restrictions that had been placed upon the lives of the Dutch Jewish population.
After some time, Anne developed a romantic attraction to Peter, the van Pels’ son. She received her first kiss from him, but her infatuation with him began to wane as she questioned whether her feelings for him were genuine, or resulted from their shared confinement.
On 29 March 1944, on a radio broadcast from London, Anne heard Dutch Minister Bolkestein say that, after the war, all diaries and letters about the war would be collected. As a result, Anne rewrote her diary. On 11 May 1944, she wrote, "You've known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist someday and later on a famous writer. In any case, I want to publish a book entitled HET ACHTERHUIS (THE SECRET ANNEX) after the war, whether I shall succeed or not, I cannot say, but my diary will be a great help.”
After a tip-off to officials implicating a group hiding in the secret annex, everyone in the annex was arrested on 4 August 1944. On 3 September 1944, they were deported on the last transport from Westerbork to the Auschwitz concentration camp. When they arrived there, after a three-day journey, the men were forcibly separated from the women and children. Of the 1,019 passengers, 549 — including all children younger than 15 — were sent directly to the gas chambers. Anne had turned 15 three months earlier and was one of the youngest people to be spared from selection.
Anne was forced to strip naked to be disinfected, had her head shaved, and was tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. By day, the women were used as slave labor and Anne was forced to haul rocks and dig rolls of sod; by night, they were crammed into overcrowded barracks. Disease was rampant and before long, Anne's skin became badly infected by scabies. The Frank sisters were moved into an infirmary, which was in a state of constant darkness, and infested with rats and mice.
On 28 October 1944, more than 8,000 women, including Anne, Margot, and Auguste van Pels, were transported from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In March 1945, a typhus epidemic spread through the camp and killed approximately 17,000 prisoners, including Anne Frank—only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by British troops on 15 April 1945—though the exact date of Anne’s death is not known. After the liberation, in an effort to prevent further spread of the disease, the camp was burned down and all bodies were buried in a mass grave. Because of these circumstances, the exact whereabouts of Anne’s final resting place remain unknown.
ANNE’S DIARY: A SHORT HISTORY
Anne’s diary, written in Dutch, was salvaged by Miep Gies after the arrest in the annex. Miep gave the diary to Otto Frank upon his return from Auschwitz. Otto prepared the diary for publication, cutting out parts he and the editors deemed problematic. It was first printed in 1947 by Contact Publishing in Amsterdam under the title HET ACHTERHUIS: DAGBOEKBRIEVEN VAN 12 JUNI 1942-1 AUGUSTUS 1944 (THE ANNEX: DIARY NOTES FROM 12 JUNE 1942-1 AUGUST 1944).The diary became an instant success.
Otto Frank then authorized the first foreign translation of Anne’s diary into German, which was published in 1950 and soon became the most widely read book in Germany. As a result, “through the 1950s and 60s, schools were named for Anne Frank in dozens of cities and towns across Germany; German school children began to take up her diary as part of their reading and crossed the border into Holland in busloads for visits to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.” (Peter Hayes, LESSONS AND LEGACIES: THE MEANING OF THE HOLOCAUST IN A CHANGING WORLD, p.263).
Two years later, in 1952, ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL appeared in its English translations by B. M. Mooyaart-Doubleday (US) and Valentine Mitchell (UK). The English translations received widespread critical and popular attention and furthered Anne’s international reception. Her diary is now available in over 60 different languages.
ANNE FRANK ALIVE
ANNE. Dear Kitty, I was born in Frankfurt, Germany on June twelfth, 1929. Because we're Jewish, my father emigrated to Holland in 1933. Our identity cards are stamped with a big black "J." And . . . we have to wear a yellow star. But somehow life goes on.
ANNE. June 20th, 1942. It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that no one, including myself, will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old school girl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, and more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.
ANNE. July sixth, 1942. Dear Kitty, Years seemed to have passed between Sunday and now. It is as if the whole world has been turned upside down.
ANNE. (Skipping around the room) Like being on vacation in some strange pension or something. An adventure-romantic and dangerous at the same time!
ANNE. It's the silence that frightens me most.
ANNE. (Flinging her arms around her father) Oh Pim, Pim! I dreamt they broke through the bookcase, took us all away. The train whistle, Pim! The train going to the East!
ANNE. Tonight, after the radio broadcast, Pim asked what was the first thing we wanted to do when we're liberated. I'd be so thrilled I wouldn't know where to begin. I long to be back in school with my friends, ride a bike, whistle, laugh so hard it hurts. I wonder if anyone will ever not think about whether I'm Jewish—just a young girl badly in need of some good plain fun.
ANNE. I'm lucky. I've been healthy. In fact, I've been growing! So much I can't fit into my shoes anymore, not to speak of anything else. And there's another change—something happening inside me. Each time I get my period (and it's only been three times), I have the feeling that, despite the pain, I have a sweet secret.
ANNE. Sometimes, when I lie in bed at night, I feel a terrible urge to touch my breasts and listen to the beating of my heart. [. . .] Every time I see a female nude, such as the Venus in my art history book, I go into ecstasy. Sometimes I find them so exquisite I have to struggle to hold back my tears.
ANNE. I'll tell you a secret—every night I think, "They're coming, they're coming—our liberators!"
ANNE. I'd never turn away from who I am. I couldn't. Don't you know you'll always be Jewish in your soul.
ANNE. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.
INSIDE THE HEAD, THE HEART, AND THE BODY OF ANNE FRANK:
Dear Sara Howard, you extraordinary Anne Frank, would you be willing to share some of your own experiences, your angst, but also your sense of hope and survival that you brought to your role in this production? How did you get into the head, the heart, and the body of the young teenager from Germany in Amsterdam—hiding in fear of persecution, while confessing innermost thoughts and feelings through your intimate diary?
EVEN IN HER CLOISTERED EXISTENCE, HER SPIRIT MATURED AND BLOSSOMED
Sara Howard as Anne Frank: Going into the process of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility I had in portraying a historical figure and, more importantly, a real person. Anne Frank is a unique historical figure because it is not her actions that live on, but her spirit.
I chose not to focus on the tragedy of the Holocaust in my portrayal of Anne Frank; rather, I strove to bring my fullest sense of life to Anne. With every moment in the play, I sought to find the truest form of emotion or need—whether momentary hatred of one’s mother, true love, true fear, or the need for company, for understanding, even the need to conquer the world.
Anne goes into hiding when she is thirteen years old—so this is where I began my journey. Thirteen is a unique age. We are on the edge of adulthood, ricocheting back and forth between a ferocious need for respect and an opposing desire to crawl back into the cradle. We are full of ambition, yet racked with insecurity. Every emotion is fully realized; there is no façade, no foresight, and little afterthought.
I had to learn to tap into every impulse with full commitment, even if this action—such as telling my mother I hate her—seemed horrible. I think now I understand ‘angst’: it is the result of figuring out where I belong in a world much bigger than I ever imagined. And in Anne’s case, figuring out where she stands in the midst of an inscrutable war, and under a persecution that is completely illogical and petrifying, angst seems perfectly logical. I was also blessed with discovering love and maturity as Anne discovered them in the annex. Even in her cloistered existence, her spirit matured and blossomed. So, every night, I relived with Anne the titillating and sometimes embarrassing secrets of sexuality and love.
I do believe that with a truthfully fervent, irreverent, and loving portrayal of Anne Frank, the spirit of these lost lives can be honored.
OTTO FRANK: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Otto ("Pim") Frank (1889-1980) was a German-born businessman and the father of Anne and Margot Frank. After Germany invaded Holland in May of 1940, Otto made his business, Opekta, look "Aryan" by transferring control to non-Jewish colleagues. He hid his family, along with the van Pelses and Fritz Pfeffer, in the upper rear rooms of the Opekta premises on the Prinsengracht in 1942.
After two years of hiding, they were betrayed by an anonymous informant in August 1944. Otto survived his time in Auschwitz and was liberated by the Soviet troops in 1945. After returning to the Netherlands, he learned he was the sole survivor of the family.
Anne’s diary and papers were given to Otto by Miep Gies. He typed out the diary papers into a single manuscript and edited out sections he thought too personal to his family or too mundane to be of interest to the general reader. By the summer of 1946, it was accepted for publication. Its success led to many translations, theatrical dramatizations, cinematic versions, and other retellings in various genres.
OTTO FRANK ALIVE
MR. FRANK. Now. Everyone. A few things. Quickly! We have to get organized before eight. Anne! Sit down, please. First, about the noise. While the workmen are in the building—from eight to six—we must keep completely quiet. So no shoes. And move only when absolutely necessary. We can't run any water. We can't flush the toilet in the W.C. The pipes go down through the warehouse and every sound can be heard.
MR. FRANK. Anne! No trash can ever be thrown out—not even a potato peel. We'll burn everything in the stove at night. We can't go outside. We can't look out a window. No coughing. If possible, no fevers. Remember—we can never call a doctor. This is the way we must live until it is over. (Smiling.) But after six we can talk, laugh, play games, move around just as we would at home. This will be our common room, the place we meet to have supper like one family.
MR. FRANK. But every day Miep and Mr. Kraler will bring us food, books, their precious company. They're friends, Anne. That's rare these days. If the Nazis found out they were hiding us, they'd be deported, too.
MR. FRANK. Remember when we arrived—your mother and Margot were numb. Couldn't speak. Couldn't move. I was a wreck with worry, but you, you skipped around the room calling it "an adventure." You showed me you could escape. Now, when I read my Dickens, it takes me to another world. In that world I feel safe. You have something more. A diary. You're lucky.
MR. FRANK. If we can save even one person we must.
(Mr. Frank comes into Anne’s room with Margot and Mrs. Frank. Mrs. Frank watches Mr. Frank measure Margot and Anne against the door.)
MR. FRANK. No one's leaving. We can't panic. If we panic, we're lost. We've survived here for six months together. We're going on.
ANNE’S FATHER, CAPTAIN OF THE SMALL JEWISH TITANIC:
AN INTERVIEW WITH OTTO FRANK
Rob Kahn, you are the man whom others expect to be a rock—that's how you look and act and talk—and yet, deep down, your own vulnerabilities and all that which makes you a “Mensch” and a Kahn, hit us hard. You were the captain of the small Jewish Titanic, which was almost ready to survive, when disaster struck. I will never forget your way of handling the role, from charming, stern, and realistic all the way to resigned. You began the way you ended the play, reading aloud your daughter's private diary, aware that neither she nor the others had made it alive. I still see the tears in your eyes. What was it like for you to connect with Anne’s father?
WHEN THE HEAD OF A FAMILY LOSES CONTROL
Rob Kahn as Otto Frank, Anne’s father: The most personal connection I felt with Otto was him dealing with his loss of control. I get very angst-ridden when I'm in situations where I can't control my own path or outcome. I believe control is a shared basic human emotional need.
Otto makes an impossible journey from successful company-owner with friends and a loving family, to having everything he's ever cared for, or owned, or managed, systematically taken away from him. This was on a scale no person should ever have to experience, but so many did.
Bringing that experience to life onstage can be emotionally grueling, yet easy to connect with. I don't see how people who see the play, read Anne's diary, or simply educate themselves on the Holocaust, couldn't be moved.
MR. DUSSEL: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
In Anne Frank's posthumously published diary, Friedrich (“Fritz”) Pfeffer, was given the pseudonym Albert Dussel. Pfeffer (1889-1944) was a German-Jewish refugee who hid with Anne Frank during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, and perished in the Neuengamme concentration camp in Northern Germany. Fritz was trained as a dentist and jaw surgeon and obtained a license to practice in 1911.
The tide of anti-Semitism in Germany, which escalated with the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933, forced most of Fritz's relatives to flee the country: his sister Minna and his father died in Theresienstadt in1942; his three brothers died or emigrated from Germany between 1928 and 1944; and his first wife, Vera, escaped to Holland but was arrested in 1942 and died in Auschwitz.
In 1936 he met a young German woman, Charlotte Kaletta (1910-1985). The couple moved in together but were prohibited from marrying under the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg Laws which forbade marriages between Jews and non-Jews. After fleeing to Amsterdam, he became acquainted with the Frank and van Pels families. Miep Gies became a patient in his dental office.
In the autumn of 1942, he decided to go into hiding. Otto Frank agreed to accommodate Pfeffer. His medical degree came in handy as they could not contact a doctor while in hiding. Pfeffer’s observance of orthodox Judaism clashed with Anne Frank’s liberal views; her energy and capriciousness grated on his nerves, while his pedantry and rigidity frustrated her.
Through Miep, Pfeffer stayed in touch with Charlotte. Miep met with Charlotte on a weekly basis to exchange their letters and take provisions from her. Pfeffer’s letters never disclosed the location of his hiding place and Miep never revealed it either. After his arrest and transfer with 59 other medics to Sachsenhausen and from there to Neuengamme, he died of enterocolitis, in the sick barracks, at the age of 55. Charlotte married Pfeffer posthumously in 1950, with retrospective effect to 31 May 1937.
MR. DUSSEL ALIVE
ANNE. Three and a half months in the Annex and we're eagerly awaiting our latest addition. What will he be like? Miep says he's quiet, refined and, by all accounts, an excellent dentist!
MR. DUSSEL. All over Amsterdam, Jews are disappearing torn out of bed in the middle of the night. [. . .] Children come home from school—their parents are gone. Women come back from shopping—whole families vanished. It's impossible to escape unless you go into hiding. Thousands are being taken away. Deported.
MR. DUSSEL. Charlotte and I have never been apart. It all happened so quickly, I couldn't tell her where I was going. I didn't know myself.
ANNE. That's my bed. And that's Margot's, where you'll sleep. I know it's small and dark in here, but if you peek through the blackout curtain you’ll see the most beautiful chestnut tree in the world. I can't wait till it's in blossom, though I hope the war will be over by then and we'll all be home.
MR. DUSSEL. My God, I can't eat this again! Pickles, kale and rotten potatoes—every night for weeks now.
MR. DUSSEL. Everyone makes fun of dentists but, believe me, it's no fun for us. Everyone hates us.
ANNE. Saturday, 1 January 1944. We've been here one year, five months, and twenty-five days. We're all thinner, paler and a lot hungrier. We've been plagued by medical problems—someone's always suffering from something—and although we can't call a doctor, our favorite dentist is never too far away.
ARRIVING WITH NO ONE AND LEAVING AS HE CAME—ALONE:
AN INTERVIEW WITH MR. DUSSEL
Brendan Norton, apart from Anne Frank, you were probably the most tragic figure on stage, and yet, through your powerful acting, you brought a Shakespearean duality of tragedy and comedy to the difficult role of the socially awkward, frazzled, and frightened Mr. Dussel. You moved many of us in the audience, making us laugh, but also wanting to reach out to you—the loneliest of all the people in that secret annex. What experiences did you bring to this very challenging role?
AN OUTSIDER INSIDE THE ANNEX
Brendan Norton as Mr. Dussel, the dentist: In the brief months that the other families had been in the hiding spot, Albert Dussel (Fritz Pfeffer in real life) witnessed the horrors that had escalated on the outside. In my mind, he is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder upon his arrival, which only serves to throw a wrench in the lives of the two host families.
I can relate to that feeling of loneliness, as I'm sure we all can. I drew on my own experiences as the youngest child in a very large family of much older siblings—where I grew up, practically an only child. Similarly, as the only cast member without a significant other, I was intrigued to learn that Dussel’s Christian lover, Charlotte (Lotte), posthumously married him after his death—such a beautiful gesture for a man too soon ripped from this world. This interfaith marriage of Mr. Dussel reminds me of my step-father, a Jewish man who married my mother, a Christian woman, while still retaining his Jewish identity and merging his faith with a significant other who is fundamentally different in her beliefs and upbringing.
I was struck by how much of an outsider Dussel was during his time in the annex. As the only resident there by himself, with no family, no spouse, no children, no siblings—unlike all the others in the annex—his life must have been especially difficult. He arrived with no one and left as he came: alone and separated from those he loved—before he was herded into the concentration camps to die.
EDITH FRANK: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Edith (1900-1945) married Otto Frank at Aachen's synagogue in 1925. Sections of Edith and Anne’s often disagreeable relationship were, for the early editions, removed from Anne’s diary by Otto Frank. However, parts of Anne's portrayal of an unsympathetic and sarcastic mother were featured in the dramatizations of the diary. By contrast, people who knew Edith presented her as a modest, distant woman who tried to treat her children as equals.
Some pages censored by Otto Frank show Anne’s interpretation of potentially problematic family dynamics: Anne discerned that while Edith Frank very much loved her husband, Otto—though he remained devoted her—did not appear to be in love with Edith. This belief helped Anne foster a sense of empathy for her mother's situation. During their time at Auschwitz, Bloeme Evers-Emden, a survivor, observed that Edith, Anne, and Margot "were always together, mother and daughters. It is certain that they gave each other a great deal of support. All the things a teenager might think of her mother were no longer of any significance."
On 30 October 1944 Edith was separated from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chamber but escaped to another area of the camp. However, she died from starvation in January 1945, only 20 days before the Red Army liberated the camp.
EDITH FRANK ALIVE
ANNE. I know Mother never touched a man before she met Pim. My girlfriends would say, ''Anne, how shocking!" But who cares what they'd say anyway? Everything's different now, here.
ANNE. As far as I'm concerned, Mother can go jump in a lake! I don't know why I've taken such a terrible dislike to her, but I can imagine her dying someday, while Papa's death seems inconceivable to me. It's very mean of me I know, but that's how I feel. I hope Mother will never read this or anything else I've written. She's not a mother to me—I have to mother myself. Who can I turn to? Only my diary. I have to become a good person on my own, but I know it will make me stronger in the end.
MRS. FRANK. There's no hope to be had. I know that. I knew it the night Hitler came to power, when that voice came screaming out of the radio. I sat there paralyzed. And now in London, what is the Dutch Queen doing? What are they all doing? They're not even mentioning the word Jew. The trains are still leaving. Why don't they bomb the tracks? I can't talk about this with the others, Miep.
MRS. FRANK. I know they're making plans, counting the days till the war is over, but I have to tell you I feel the end will never come. Sometimes . . . sometimes I want to give myself up.
MIEP. Forgive me, Mrs. Frank, but you must try and take things a little easier. They need you. The children need you.
MR. FRANK. For your mother. For tonight. (He takes out a delicate antique silver music box.)
MRS. FRANK. (Her eyes filling with tears.) The music box . . . Otto. How did you—
MR. FRANK. I saved it for you. I was hoping we wouldn't be here till Hanukkah, but I brought it just in case.
NOT EXACTLY THE MOST FLATTERING PORTRAIT OF A MOTHER:
AN INTERVIEW WITH EDITH FRANK
I only know Mrs. Frank through Anne Frank’s writing—not exactly the most flattering portrait of a mother. No wonder that Anne’s father tried to block the publication of those passages initially. I’m glad that he relented so that we can see Anne as a real human being, rather than the perfect daughter. You exuded a strength that contributed greatly to the production. I was wondering how you managed to swim against the stream of Anne’s perceptions.
“I DIDN'T CREATE A CHARACTER THAT MIRRORED ANNE'S DEPICTION OF HER MOTHER”
Melanie Julian as Edith Frank: While creating the character of Edith Frank, my desire was to bring to life a three-dimensional character. In researching her, I found some pictures, a little information, but there isn't much written about her. Anne's writing about her mother in the diary is from the viewpoint of a young teenage girl who is having the usual teenage frustration with her mother, so I didn't create a character that mirrored Anne's depiction in that writing. Thus, I was faced with the challenge of creating a woman from history who has a fullness of personality and life that I was unable to find in any of the historical resources I read and watched. The lack of information made me more determined than usual to bring a living, breathing human being to the stage in the character of Edith Frank.
My desire was to create a woman who was fiercely protective of her family, who was a dedicated wife and mother, and who tried on a daily basis to stay strong and positive for her family, despite being in the worst of imaginable circumstances. I believe she had strengths and weaknesses, courage and fear, likes and dislikes—just as we all do. I wanted to make sure the audience could see all of these angles in the Edith Frank I portrayed.
MARGOT FRANK: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Margot Betti Frank (1926-1945) was the eldest daughter of Otto and Edith Frank. A diary kept by Margot during her time in hiding is mentioned by Anne in her writings but has never been found; however, letters written by both sisters to American pen pals were published in 2003.
Margot attended the Ludwig-Richter School in Frankfurt-am-Main until the expulsion of Jewish schoolchildren from non-denominational schools. Margot then attended Amsterdam's Jekerstraat elementary school where she displayed the studiousness and intelligence that had made her noteworthy at her previous schools. Margot followed her mother's example and became involved in Amsterdam's Jewish community. She took Hebrew classes, attended synagogue, and in 1941 joined a Dutch Zionist club for young people who wanted to immigrate to Palestine to found a Jewish state, where, according to Anne, she wished to become a midwife.
The 1940 German invasion of the Netherlands, however, demanded Margot’s placement into a Jewish Lyceum. In July 1942, Margot Frank received a call-up notice from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration), ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp. Otto Frank then arranged for his family to go into hiding in the secret annex.
Margot and Anne formed a closer relationship while in hiding than had existed previously, although Anne sometimes expressed jealousy towards Margot, particularly when members of the household criticized Anne for lacking Margot's gentle and placid nature. As Anne began to mature, the sisters were able to confide in each other. In her entry of 12 January 1944, Anne wrote, "Margot's much nicer . . . She's not nearly so catty these days and is becoming a real friend. She no longer thinks of me as a little baby who doesn't count."
Margot contracted typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the winter of 1944. In her weakened state, she fell from her bunk-bed, dying several days before her sister Anne, in early March, 1945.
MARGOT FRANK ALIVE
ANNE. There's nothing wrong with being kissed or anything. Though I'm sure Margot would never kiss a boy unless she were engaged to him.
ANNE. Everything [my mother] does is right, and everything I do is wrong. If I talk, I'm a show-off, if I answer, I'm rude, selfish, if I eat too much, stupid, cowardly, a complete disappointment! I'll never live up to your expectations. I'll never be Margot!
MARGOT. It's illegal then, the ration books? We've never done anything illegal.
MARGOT. I'm afraid to let myself think about it. To have a real meal. (They laugh together.) It doesn't seem possible. Will anything taste the same? Look the same? I don't know if anything will ever be the same again. How can we go back, really?
THE LITTLE SAINTLY BIRD, CAUGHT IN THE SECRET JEWISH CAGE:
AN INTERVIEW WITH MARGOT FRANK
K.O. DelMarcelle, I know you as a lively person, quite different from Margot Frank. And yet, you were so convincing on stage as the older, mature sister who did all the right things, most of the time, trying to fit in and not rock the annex boat. In some ways, you were like a little saintly bird caught in a secret Jewish cage that didn’t make too many moves but tried to keep sanity alive. How did you prepare for living truthfully under these imaginary circumstances, to paraphrase Meisner’s method?
THE DANGER OF SINKING INTO THE DARKNESS OF THE ANNEX
K.O. DelMarcelle as Margot Frank: These imaginary circumstances are too extreme, too horrific to imagine. They seemed to be the most challenging aspect of the process of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. On day one of rehearsals, Lane Savardove, our artistic director, encouraged us NOT to live in Otto Frank's final monologue. Lane warned us about the danger of sinking into the darkness of that place. Instead, we focused on moment to moment action and investment in the reality of our given circumstances. We spent time pinpointing our objectives in relation to all the others hiding with us—seemingly fundamental for any given script/character an actor is working on—however essential for the groundedness required for these unimaginable circumstances.
MR. VAN DAAN: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY 
Hermann van Pels (“Mr. van Daan”) (1898-1944) was the German-Jewish husband of Auguste Röttgen and father of Peter van Pels, the couple’s only child. Until 1933, Herman and his sister operated their family’s meat seasoning business. However, anti-Jewish legislation caused the family to move to Amsterdam in 1937. Otto Frank hired Hermann van Pels in 1938 as an herb and sausage production specialist for his company, Pectacon.
Van Pels died in Auschwitz and was the only member of the group in the annex to be gassed. Sal de Liema, an inmate at Auschwitz who knew both Otto Frank and Hermann van Pels, said that after two or three days in camp, Herman mentally "gave up”—the beginning of the end for any concentration camp inmate. Van Pels requested to be sent to the sick barracks, where soon after, he was sent to the gas chambers, roughly three weeks after his arrival at Auschwitz. His selection was witnessed by both his son Peter and Otto Frank.
MR. VAN DAAN ALIVE
MR. VAN DAAN. What have you got to write about that's so important all the time? How much does a thirteen-year-old have to say?
MR. VAN DAAN. I just hope she doesn't write anything about me in that private diary of hers.
MR. VAN DAAN. I don't think we'll be living exactly according to regulations here.
(Mrs. Frank moves closer, turns on the light. Trembling, Mr. van Daan jumps to his feet. He is clutching a piece of bread)
MRS. FRANK. My God, I don't believe it. The bread! He's stealing the bread!
MR. VAN DAAN. No, no. Quiet.
MR. FRANK. (Everyone comes into the main room in their nightclothes.) Hermann, for God's sake! [. . .]
MR. VAN DAAN. (Putting the bread on the table. In a panic.) [. . .]
MRS. FRANK. (Quiet.) I want him to go. [. . .]
MRS. FRANK. No! I can't take it with them here! They have to go.
MRS. VAN DAAN. You'd put us out on the street? [. . .]
ANNE. Please, Mother. They'll be killed on the street!
MR. VAN DAAN. You can't hold onto a fur coat when people are in such desperate need of warm clothing. Besides, we're broke. We've been running out of money for months. I have to sell it. (Taking the coat from her hands, he gives it to Miep, who starts for the stairs.)
EVERYMAN IN THE DUTCH ATTIC: AN INTERVIEW WITH MR. VAN DAAN
Russ Widdall, your presence on stage with your down-to-earth ways of talking, walking, living, and loving made me see you as the modern equivalent of Everyman. Even when you violated the social code and stole the much-prized bread, stuffing yourself silly, depriving others of their precious little food, you showed the darker side of people who live under extreme circumstances. Like Everyman in medieval morality plays, we could easily identify with you.
WHY WE REALLY WATCH, AND CRY, AND LAUGH, AND LEARN TO SAY “NEVER AGAIN!”
Russ Widdall as Mr. van Daan: It is through our mutually shared experiences that we find common ground and develop empathy. The audience recognizes in Mr. van Daan both their own vulnerability and humanity.
The Holocaust was an awful tragedy that victimized Jews; yet, it is not the nature of Judaism that makes this story special. From my perspective, it’s the nature of humanity and the way these fellow human beings reacted to their circumstances that makes their plight universal. They didn’t act or react in a Jewish way. They acted in a human way. That is why we watch, and cry, and laugh, and learn to say, “Never again!”
MRS. VAN DAAN: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Auguste Röttgen (“Mrs. van Daan”) (1900-1945) was born in Buer, a German industrial city in the Ruhr. She married Hermann van Pels on 5 December 1925, one year later giving birth to their only child, Peter in Osnabrück.
She was transported from Westerbork to Auschwitz on 3 September 1944. There she was separated from her husband and son, both whom she would never see again. Auguste was assigned to a work labor group until she was relocated to Bergen-Belsen on 26 November 1944. Then on 6 February 1945, she became a slave laborer and was evacuated to Buchenwald in eastern Germany. Eventually, all survivors at Buchenwald were marched to Theresienstadt. Historians believe that Auguste either died during the "Buchenwald-Theresienstadt Death March" or shortly after arriving at Terezin.
MRS. VAN DAAN ALIVE
MRS. VAN DAAN. We'll go back on that ferry one day, Putti. I promise. It won't be long now. And soon I'll be cooking all your old favorites—sauerbraten with red cabbage, latkes with your cherished applesauce [. . .] But in the meantime, Putti, if you're hungry, hold onto me. Oh Putti, please. Just hold onto me.
MRS. VAN DAAN. I just don't feel at home without my chamber pot.
PETER. He wants to sell her fur coat.
MRS. VAN DAAN. (Moving away, clutching her coat. Quiet.) No, Putti. Don't do this to me. This is my coat. I've had this coat for seventeen years. My father gave me this coat. You have no right. Don't you dare! Let go.
MRS. VAN DAAN. (Coming up behind Anne.) What were you writing that was so funny? Nothing about me, I hope. (Anne slams the diary shut.) Can't I take a peek?
TRYING TO BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYBODY: AN INTERVIEW WITH MRS. VAN DAAN
Mary Lee Bednarek, you played the role of a woman who, like a chameleon, tried to be everything to everybody: wife, mother, supporter of the group, but also a vulnerable human being. She flirted with Anne’s father, had trouble letting go of her past and her earthly possessions, and clung to externals like the old fur coat which gave your Mrs. van Daan a connection to a wonderful past. Ultimately, I saw you as a woman who struggled with her relationships with the many different temperaments and personalities in the attic. How did you juggle these many different roles?
DANCING AROUND MANY DIFFERENT TEMPERAMENTS UNDER ONE ROOF
Mary Lee Bednarek as Mrs. van Daan: One thing I personally brought was my experience of being in a large family with nine brothers and sisters. I know what it's like to dance around many different temperaments and personalities under one roof. Often, there was a lot going on at once. There were times of arguments and sadness, as well as deep love and community. I also brought my love for the diary of Anne Frank itself. I read it over and over as a young teenager.
PETER VAN DAAN: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Peter van Pels (“Peter van Daan”) (1926-1945) was born in Osnabrück, Germany. After his family moved to Amsterdam, Peter attended the Jewish Lyceum the same year as Margot Frank. He is remembered for being academically gifted and a master at joinery and carpentry. Initially unhappy with the arrangement in the annex, he and Anne Frank soon developed a friendship that slowly evolved into a romantic relationship.
In Auschwitz, Otto Frank, and Peter and Hermann van Pels were assigned to a forced labor group. In the winter of 1944-45, Peter van Pels was evacuated to the Mauthausen concentration camp. Against the advice of Otto Frank, who had urged Peter to hide with him in the hospital sick ward at Auschwitz when the Germans abandoned the infamous death camp to the advancing Russian Army, Peter felt he had a better chance of survival by going on the forced march. The Mauthausen records indicate that on 11 April, 1945, Peter was sent to the sick barracks. His exact death date is unknown. The International Red Cross designated it as 5 May 1945.
PETER VAN DAAN ALIVE
PETER. The day they made us wear the star was the worst day of my life.
PETER. I'll tell you one thing. When we get out of here, I'm going to make sure no one knows I'm Jewish.
PETER. I'm not miserable anymore. I mean even bumping into you on the stairs sometimes I feel (He stops.)
ANNE. I long for every boy, and to Peter I want to shout, "Say something, don't just smile at me all the time, touch me, so I can get that delicious feeling inside." I feel spring within me, I feel spring awakening, I feel it in my entire body and soul. I'm utterly confused, don't know what to read, to write, to do. I only know I am longing.
PETER. You sure know a lot about yourself, don't you? I guess it comes from all that writing you do.
PETER. I didn't have much going for me on the outside.
PETER. You called it our attic before. Do you really think it's ours?
HIDING WITHIN THE MOST SECRET PARTS OF THE ANNEX:
AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER VAN DAAN
Johnny Smith, seeing you hide within the most secret parts of the annex, reflecting your role as the shy adolescent who is slowly discovering his masculinity, in however tenuous a way, and your initial resistance to the advances of Anne Frank, was a pleasure to see unfold in this wonderful production.
BEING ANNE FRANK’S LOVE INTEREST, “ONE OF THE MAJOR CHALLENGES OF MY CAREER”
Johnny Smith as Peter van Daan: While it's not difficult to experience certain moments, like quarreling with one’s parents or falling in love with a girl, it was hard to truly imagine myself in Peter's position. At first, I thought I had a lot in common with Peter. Certain aspects of his personality jumped out at me, like his tumultuous relationship with his parents, being shy with girls, etc. I looked at these aspects and said to myself, "I can relate to this character. How hard could this be?" This was a naive way of thinking, and I soon realized the character would be one of the major challenges of my career.
It was extremely difficult to imagine myself in the position of a sixteen year-old Jewish boy in hiding during World War II. After reading about the Holocaust, watching documentaries, and familiarizing myself with the subject matter at hand, I'm sure there is no way to truly grasp what Jewish people experienced at the hands of the Nazis. The subject matter is very depressing at times, but thanks to the cast, we are able to carry each other through the experience.
MIEP GIES: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Miep Gies (1909-2010) was born Hermine Santrouschitz in Vienna, Austria. She was transported to Leiden, South Holland, in December 1920 to escape the food shortages in Austria after World War I. In 1922, she moved to Amsterdam with her foster family. In 1933, Miep met Otto Frank when she applied for the position of a temporary secretary at Opekta. Miep became close friends of the Frank family. Her knowledge of Dutch and German helped the Franks assimilate into Dutch society. Shortly after Miep refused to join a Nazi women's association and was threatened with deportation back to Austria, she married Jan Gies in 1941.
Miep hid nine Jews—some, including the Franks, in an attic annex, and another at her house. She and five friends provided the only connection between the outside world and the people hidden in the houses. Together, they kept the refugees informed of war news and political developments, catered for all of their needs, ensured their safety, and supplied them with food, a task that grew more difficult with the passage of time. All were aware that, if caught, they could face the death penalty for sheltering Jews.
After the arrests of the eight Jewish refugees in the annex, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl were questioned and threatened by the Security Police, but were not detained. They returned to the Achterhuis the following day, where they found Anne's papers strewn on the floor. They collected them, as well as several family photograph albums, and Gies resolved to return them to Anne after the war. On 7 August 1944, Gies attempted to facilitate the release of the prisoners by confronting Karl Silberbauer, the arresting SS officer, and offering him money to intervene, but he refused.
After the war, Gies gave the collection of papers and notebooks to Otto Frank. She did not read the diaries before turning them over to him, and later remarked that if she had, she would have had to destroy them because the diary contained the names of all five of the helpers as well as their black market suppliers. She was persuaded by Otto Frank to read it in its second printing. Later she wrote her own memoir: Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family. Miep Gies—revered the world over for her valor—passed away on 11 January 2010, shortly before her 101st birthday.
MIEP GIES ALIVE
MR. VAN DAAN. When Miep comes the sun begins to shine!
ANNE. A party! Oh Miep! Remember everything so you can tell us about it tomorrow.
ANNE. Miep always does everything just right.
ANNE. Please Miep, get me some starch. Some tea, some biscuits, a movie star magazine. Tell us all the latest news, Miep. Miep, Miep, Miep! It's a wonder Miep has a life of her own! Did you know she's engaged to someone called Jan? She's crazy about him, but terrified the Nazis will send him to Germany to work in a war plant. That's what they do with all the young Dutchmen these days.
MIEP. We're not heroes.
MIEP. We just don't like the Nazis. Anything about them.
MIEP. (Tears streaming down her cheeks.) The invasion. The invasion has begun! Did you hear me? The invasion! It's happening—right now! You can feel it in the streets—the excitement!
FACING THE SEVEN DEADLY NAZI-SINS AND THEIR MURDEROUS ONSLAUGHT:
AN INTERVIEW WITH MIEP GIES
Cindy Spitko, in your role as Miep, you looked like a modern Saint Christopher, who assisted people in need to cross a dangerous threshold to a secret annex, the way the old saint helped the poor across a perilous river.
Whenever you entered the Achterhuis, it looked as if all the refugees in hiding radiated rays of hope from deep within, all reflections of your endless generosity. Neither you nor the frightened Jews in the annex knew what fate would befall them. You became the personification of all the Seven Virtues, facing the Seven Deadly Nazi-Sins and their murderous onslaught on millions of Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Socialists, Communists, Trade Unionists, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the mentally-and-physically handicapped, and anyone perceived to be different by the regime. Cindy, even though the lighting designer did a great job, it was your innermost light which generated warmth and illuminated an otherwise dark chapter in human history.
THE FEMALE SAINT CHRISTOPHER WHO CARRIES THE LIVING DEAD
Cindy Spitko as Miep, the non-Jewish lifeline to the outside world: I still have trouble grasping the given circumstances of Miep’s situation. Not only did she have to feed eleven people for about three years (herself, her husband Jan, the eight Jews in the attic, and one she was hiding in her own home), but she had to remain calm, creative, and compassionate. It seems as though the world rested upon her shoulders and she handled it with such grace.
I would have had many panic attacks, and perhaps would have balked if put in such a situation. Maybe that makes me a weak person, but I still cannot believe her situation. She had often said after the war that she was not a hero, but in my opinion she is the epitome of that.
What I can identify with is her general nature. She said that the reason why she took care of the people in the annex was because “it’s what you did.” Mr. Frank asked her to do it and she did. No questions asked. I suppose I live in the same type of vein. We need others. Everyone does. And if I’m not going to be that support system, who will?
Working on this production, I have found that there was probably a lot of hidden anger in Miep. She came from Austria to Amsterdam as a foster child and left her foster home at a young age. She watched the slow destruction of her replacement home right before her eyes by Nazis, a group of people she didn’t understand. She, and those she cared for, including Jan and the Jewish refugees in the annex, were all in constant danger.
Would she, the orphan, really be sent away again? Could she let the Franks be relocated again? She witnessed Nazi ideology and actions, but found a way to quietly fight it. Something was driving her, something beyond “it’s what you did.” Throughout the rehearsal and production process, I keep asking myself every day: what makes Miep tick, and what can I do to reach out to others?
MODERN JOB WHOSE THEATRE WAS DESTROYED BUT WHO MOVED AND REBUILT IT:
AN INTERVIEW WITH LANE SAVADOVE, EGOPO’S ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Lane Savadove, the story of the Biblical Job is your story too: after the Katrina devastation in New Orleans, you and your theatre company lost everything, including your homes, your beautiful Jewel Theatre, and your audience. All was destroyed. But like Job, you did not give up. You rebuilt the EgoPo Classic Theatre based on the concept of "the physical self," where you and your repertory company, season after season, revitalize the great classics.
You survived and regrouped so successfully that you moved your company to Philadelphia. Unlike Miró, who recreated the same types of paintings all his life, you, like Picasso, appear more dynamic—shaping dramatically different works every year: from the Tennessee Williams’ Festival, the German Expressionist Theater Festival, and the Philadelphia Beckett Festival, to the Theater of Cruelty: A Celebration of the French Avant-Garde—culminating in the largest Jewish theatre season of any company in the city of Brotherly Love this year. Mazel tov!
I have read many glowing reviews about the EgoPo Classic Theater and their productions all over the United States and Asia. However, it was not until I drove to the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia to see THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK that I saw your work firsthand. I found myself engrossed by joyful moments that had the audience smile and laugh. Yet, I also felt captivated by painful scenes inside the Black Box—with human beings forced to live like rats in a box—turning on each other during times of conflict.
I saw the gravity of the situation when everyone remained on stage—even during intermission—showing the audience that there was no escape. Those seeking refuge from the SS in the secret annex at Prinsengracht 267 were forbidden to stroll along the beautiful canals in Amsterdam. Your actors could not even take the elevator down to the lobby of the theater, let alone use the public restrooms.
As someone who has seen THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK around the world, I have never witnessed a production as moving and intimate as your portrayal of the pain, joy, and humanity of the refugees hiding in the secret annex.
ANNE FRANK HELPS IN STEMMING THE DANGEROUS TIDE OF ANTI-SEMITISM
Lane Savadove, EgoPo Artistic Director: Thank you. I wanted the audience to be able to imagine themselves in the attic: to think that this could have been, or might one day, be them. At any one time there are three, four, even five different movements occurring on stage. In each room on stage, a different scene is taking place simultaneously that makes the scene of focus that much richer—physical spaces that reek of reality.
Matt Sharp (Lights), Matthew Miller (Set Design), and Jay Wojnarowski (Technical Director) created this complex environment—not an easy task to accomplish, especially given our budget. But their meticulous, uncompromising work paid off. The result is that the audience remains riveted and absorbed by the reality on stage.
Our greatest risk was the decision to put the play in an extreme thrust configuration, having no walls on stage, and most important, the actors would never exit the stage, not even during intermission. Natalia De La Torre brilliantly created whole sets of costumes for each actor, so that each person in the annex has at least 5-6 full changes, resulting in dozens of costume pieces—each kept on stage and changed in plain sight of the audience. The result, a clutter of textiles, textures, and colors, causes this play to burst to life.
The largest star, though, is the real Anne. This is HER writing, HER story. We are so very lucky that this document survived so that we may come to know the Holocaust through a first-person Jewish experience. This diary is a treasure. It needs to be shared over and over again for decades to come.
Ethnic hatred and anti-Semitism are far from dead. There is a significant strain in American politics that looks an awful lot like the 1930s in Germany. One of the goals of producing Anne Frank was to warn, to let our audience know that the Holocaust was not that long ago. That latent hatred is not that far from our current reality. We must be vigilant. Most importantly, we must share our stories with non-Jews so that mutual-understanding and empathy can flourish.
CREATING THE ANNEX, BOTH SAFE HAVEN AND OPPRESSIVE PRISON:
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SCENIC DESIGNER
Matthew Miller, you created an annex that allowed each square inch to be used by eight people living together, basically with hardly any privacy, thereby creating a very tense atmosphere—a little haven in a hostile world, even though that sanctuary felt like an oppressive prison for the group of refugees.
WITNESSING HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF: A CALL TO ACTION
Matthew Miller, Scenic Designer and Production Manager: Where I grew up, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was one of those plays every high school student had to read. And it seems as though every theatre artist has acted, designed, directed, or crewed that show at some point in their career. But it wasn't until I was hired by EgoPo to design and production-manage that I started to learn more, feel more, and connect with the script like never before. Few of us in this cast or crew can truly understand what Anne Frank actually went through, as many of us haven't had to experience life on her level, but in our own way, we are all fighting against tyranny and doing our best to survive.
Working on ANNE FRANK gave me a heightened reverence for what those eight people in that tiny attic endured. Seeing her words and their struggles and celebrations come to life has made me thankful for the small moments, to have a sense of never giving up, and to carry on traditions, even in the worst of situations. I hope that each audience member left feeling not only a part of the story but with a calling to do something concrete about what is going on in the world now—to end the incarcerations and executions of people because of their beliefs.
HELPING TO CREATE A PLAY THAT HIT US HARD:
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
Michael Durkin, what would artistic directors, no matter how good they are, do without their assistant directors? You helped in many ways to transform the director’s vision into a concrete reality, to create a play that hit us hard and made us not only laugh and cry but, perhaps, for quite a few of us, think more about the situation of minorities then and minorities now—and how we could be supportive. What attracted you to this production?
NOT LIVING IN OUR PERSONAL BUBBLES, NOT MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES
Michael Durkin, Assistant Director: I was attracted to this production with EgoPo because of the interpretation of presenting it in an intimate setting, combined with a thrust configuration. These spaces created personal journeys for each individual in the cramped attic. As an Assistant Director, it was exhilarating to watch these characters and their connections and disconnections with each other.
What stands out to me the most with this play is Anne’s encouragement to look beyond ourselves to something larger, something bigger than us. Our Artistic Director wanted the cast to be aware of what is going on outside the body and how it impacts us. We did not want to present a traditional re-telling of the Anne Frank story; rather, we want to inspire and create awareness and change. I hope that we stop living in our personal bubbles and avoid making the same mistakes.
HANUKKAH: THE LITTLE MUSIC BOX LEFT BEHIND IN THE ATTIC
The only part of the production which did not come up to the highest standards of the EgoPo Classic Theatre—perhaps because of the limitations of one part of the script—was the final arrest scene. It bordered on the melodramatic and the predictable. Soldiers with swastika armbands, barking a few words in Hollywood German, did not show the normality, the ordinariness, the fleeting sense of common bonds of the arresting officers with the victims.
According to a definitive account of Anne Frank—Carol Ann Lee’s ROSES FROM THE EARTH (pp. 245–246)—the arresting officer, SS-Staff Sergeant Karl Silberbauer from Vienna, Austria, part of the German Security Police in Amsterdam, asked Otto Frank how long they had been in hiding. Upon hearing "Two years and one month," Silberbauer was incredulous. Otto then stood Anne against the wall with marks made that measured her height since they had first arrived in the annex. Upon showing the arresting officer that Anne had grown more, even since the last mark had been made, Silberbauer said, “You have a lovely daughter.” He then, together with his men, forced all eight of the victims out of the attic and onto their long march toward death.
Given Otto Frank's crucial declaration after the war that officer Silberbauer had behaved correctly and without cruelty during the arrest, the judicial investigation was dropped. Silberbauer’s suspension from the police force was lifted and he returned to work with the Austrian police force after the war.
Near the end of the play, one of the arresting officers returns to the annex. He picks up Edith Frank’s music box left behind on the table. For a moment, he plays it, wondering what kind of melody it is—clearly unaware that it is the famous "Ma'oz Tzur," a traditional Hanukkah song. He then, abruptly, snaps the music box shut, and pockets it—a scene that brings another human touch to this extraordinary production. The best I have ever seen.
Shalom, Anne Frank, and all the others—wherever you are. Shalom. SHALOM.
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK at the EgoPo Classic Theatre (2011) is based on Wendy Kesselman’s 1997 adaptation of the original play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (1955). Kesselman’s version includes material originally excised by Anne’s father, primarily critical parts about Anne’s mother, and the young girl’s sexual awakening.
Anne Frank’s diary records the events from 12 June 1942 to 1 August 1944—three days before the arrest of those hiding in the secret annex. In the spring of 1946, Anne Frank’s diary came to the attention of Dr. Jan Romein, a Dutch historian, who was so moved by it that he immediately wrote an article for the newspaper HET PAROOL:
“This apparently inconsequential diary by a child, this ‘de profundis’ stammered out in a child's voice, embodies all the hideousness of Fascism, more so than all the evidence of Nuremberg put together.”
 Source: adapted from www.wikipedia.org
 Source: adapted from www.findagrave.com
 Source: www.miepgies.nl/en
 Source: www.annefrank.com/who-is-anne-frank/faqs/
HYPERLINKS (in order of first appearance)
Anne Frank Teachers Guide (PDF File): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/annefrank/annefrank_teachersguide.pdf
Anne Frank as seen from Wedding Procession Film (Video Clip):
Diary of Anne Frank in Sixty Languages (Website):
Achterhuis Floor Plan (Interactive Web):
The Movable Bookcase (Interactive Web):
Transport to Westerbork (Video Clip):
Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Video Clip):
Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp (Video Clip):
Otto Frank Interview (Video Clip):
Neuengamme Concentration Camp (Website):
Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (Video Clip):
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (Video Clip):
The Chestnut Tree Outside Anne’s Window (Video Clip):
Aachen’s Synagogue (Website):
Music Box playing “Ma’oz Tzur” (MP3 File):
Gas Chambers (Video Clip):
Osnabrück Synagogue (Website):
Buchenwald Concentration Camp (Video Clip):
Mauthausen Concentration Camp (Video Clip):
Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies
EgoPo Classic Theatre (Website):
Wendy Kesselman’s Adaptation of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (Amazon):
Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK: based on
ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL (Amazon):
Otto Frank Aliens registration 16 August 1933
Anne Frank’s Friends: LIFE With the Girls Who Lived
'I Knew Nothing about the Profundity of Her Thoughts'
Read additional reviews by Henrik Eger
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Sara Howard as Anne Frank, with her diary
Otto Frank in office
Rob Kahn as Otto Frank, Anne's father
Melanie Julian as Mrs. Frank, Anne's mother
K. O. Marcelle as Margot Frank, Anne's sister
Russ Widdall as Mr. Van Daan
Auguste van Pels
Mary Lee Bednarek as Mrs. Van Daan
Peter van Pels, born November 8, 1926 and died May 5, 1945
Dr. Fritz Pfeffer and Charlotte Kaletta
Brendan Norton as Dussel, the lonely dentist
Miep Gies portrait
Cindy Spitko as Miep, the connection to the outside world
Margot, Otto, Anne & Edith Frank, 1941
Hiding in the Amsterdam Annex
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Aachen Synagogue, from Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.
Memorial of Anne and Margot Frank
Anne Frank original diary cover