Freshman Miriam Wolf, who plays Anne Frank, lays on stage in thought. Photo by Laura VonKampen.
by Morgan Consier
Unlike plays that are based on fictional books or scripts, “The Diary of Anne Frank” gives both its cast and audience a glimpse into the real-life events and emotions of the Holocaust.
The play is centered around Anne Frank and is based on her diary, which gives its readers insights about her life and the lives of those around her.
For the cast members, being able to portray real people has been a different experience than other plays they have been in.
“Because [Anne] was a real person, it’s not like you’re playing somebody’s fantasy; you’re playing a real person with real feelings and thoughts, so it’s cool to be able to bring that to life,” freshman Miriam Wolf, who plays Anne, said.
The play also shows how family and hope helped lift the spirits of those who were in hiding or were taken into concentration camps.
Junior Rachel Krome, who plays Miep Giese, says that one of her favorite parts of her character is being able to impact the emotions of the others through her lines.
“Miep is actually a character who ends up embodying good news because every time she goes on, it’s to bring them food, to tell them good news, to just kind of bring sunshine and a happier mood to the annex,” Krome said. “It’s really fun to play that kind of character because it makes me feel like I’m actually brightening the other people’s spirits too when you get so delved into character.”
Junior Bethany Schilling, who plays Anne’s mother Edith Frank, says that being involved in this play has affected her, even offstage.
“It has been a life-changing experience for me. Even though it’s just theater and it’s just acting, it forces you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and it challenges you to open your mind to things you hadn’t considered before,” Schilling said.
As the cast has been rehearsing throughout the semester, they have each done research on their individual characters in order to more accurately portray them on stage. However, this knowledge of what happened to their characters after the events of the play means that it can be harder to maintain a distinction between the stage and real life.
“[The historical connection] really helps you get into character, so that’s a good thing, but it makes it harder to detach from the play when you get into character since it really happened. It’s really hard to sort of come down after that,” junior Joseph Greenmyer, who plays Anne’s father Otto Frank, said.
The cast is comprised of 13 members, ranging from freshmen to seniors. As they have spent countless hours together in rehearsal, they have gotten to know each other better than they thought they would before rehearsals started.
“Everyone has just been so amazing. I’m a freshman, so I was coming in not knowing anybody and everyone has just been super nice. Since this is such a heavy play, it’s nice to have people you can goof off with and joke around with. They’re all awesome,” Wolf said.
Through the stories of the people portrayed in the play, the cast members have learned the importance of cherishing their loved ones and what it means to be human. Schilling says that she hopes that people in the audience can see these things and learn from the play just as she and her fellow cast members have.
“Knowing that your characters are based off of historical people gives us a sort of a reverence for it because we really want to respect history and to respect these people who lost their lives in the Holocaust,” Schilling said. “I think my favorite part of the play itself is how beautifully it portrays humanity and all of its flaws, brokenness, the good parts, the bad parts, and it’s really meaningful to me to be part of it.”