From February 21st to March 21st a local theatre company in Philadelphia will renvision Anne Frank in their version of a play based on the Diary of Anne Frank.
The play will feature a multiethnic and multiracial cast as the Franks, the Van Daans, and Mr. Dussel (Par. 5). David Bradley, the director of the play, says, “as we bring together the artists we’ve brought together, coming from all their different perspectives, we’re lifting up that capacity of theater to help us step into a story and make connections to it and activate empathy” (Par. 7). This effort seeks to make the story of Anne Frank more relatable and accessible to oppressed groups, while the director and performers maintain that they will stay “true to the original” (par. 6). The creators do not want to “discount that it is a Jewish story,” despite their direct effort to dejuadize and universalize Anne’s experience (par. 16). Viewers should expect to see a reimagination of Anne Frank, which very well may lead to reinterpretations of who she is and how she comes to represent the Holocaust in American memory.
Universalizing Anne Frank has been at the center of class reading, viewing, and discourse over the past couple of weeks. Important questions about memory have arisen from this: is Anne’s story a story that should be reimagined? What occurs when she is univeralized? In the processes of reimagining, does her story become dejuadized, and what effect does this have on remembering the Holocaust? These questions can also be applied to this play that is now being shown in Philadelphia. While the casting of the play is a deliberate effort to connect Anne’s experience to the experiences of minorities in the United States, this effort removes the story from its context – the perspective of a young Jewish girl hiding in an attic in German occupied Amsterdam during the Holocaust.
How I found this: After our class discussions and lecture from Dr. Baron I was curious to see what new representations of Anne Frank were coming out. After a quick google search – “Anne Frank plays” – I found an article about this new play in Philadelphia from the Jewish publication, Jewish Exponent.