Is Evidence of the Destructive power of Hatred
By Iride Aparicio
Photos by: Joyce Goldschmid
PALO ALTO, CA – In black letters, scribbled by a pen, on the first page of a hard-cover book that she used as a diary, an eleven years old German/Jewish girl wrote the following paragraph on June 12, l942.
“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyon, I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
The girl’s name was ANNELISE MARIE FRANK (Anne) and the paragraph, was written inside one of the “hidden rooms” at the rear of a 17th –century canal house, now known as the “Secret Annex” (Achterhuis in Dutch) located on the canal called the Prinsengracht, close to the Westerkerk, in Amsterdam, Holland.
Her diary, saved by MIEP GIES, a woman who had helped the Frank’s family hide, was given to Otto, her father, the only Holocaust survivor in the family, who, published in Dutch as "Het Achterhuis" (The Secret Annex) in l947. Sixty nine years later, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” is still being read as a book, in its different translations allowing people to learn the horror of the Holocaust.
For those who had been moved by the story after reading it, to see it as a play by the name of “THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK” written by FRANCES GOODRICH and ALBERT HACKETT, and newly adapted by WENDY KESSELMAN playing as part of its 86th Season of the PALO ALTO PLAYERS, is a most.
Under the direction of DAVID MURPHY the acting is “natural,” their dialogue sound real. and their themes of conversations make the audience experience their frustrations, among them to remain silent during the working hours, because the workers of the food factory on the floor below could hear their voices. Of being forced to walk without their shoes on, because their steps could be heard. To not being able to look out the windows, their completely lack of privacy their inability to leave their “home,” and their complete dependence on of Milep Gies (CLARA CARUTHERS REESE) the person who is hiding them, for food and for everything they they needed from the outside. At the core of their problems are also their fears of being discovered by the Nazis at any time.
The FRANK family, Anne, Otto, Edith and Margot
Yet, in spite of their predicament, the play provides the audience a with some happy and even tender moments, something as simple as having a cake for Hanukkah, and gathering together around the table for prayers
During the play, the audience gets to know each one of the characters well. There is Mr Van Daan, ( SHAWN BENDER) a Dutch/Jew, friend of Mr. Frank, who arrives at the hiding place a day after the Franks arrived with his young son Peter (ANTHONY STEPHENS) and his wife (RACHEL MICHELBERG) wearing a fur coat. And Mr Kraler, (JOHN MUNSGRAVE) an old dentist, who during two years, uses his profession to help those with a tooth ache, but aslo complains about his living accommodations and fights with “chatty” Anne.
L-R Mr. Kraler, Mr. Frank, Miep Gies, Margot, Anne, Her mother Mr.Van Daan, and his son Peter. (“The Diary of Anne Frank” cast)
And there are the members of the Frank family which are the better developed roles. Otto Frank (VIC PROSAC) plays his role as a dignified business man. A good husband, and a protective father. When crisis arise, Otto is always in control. Edith, his wife, cracks up many times. She cries often and suffers in silence because Anne her youngest daughter does not like her. Margot (16) is quiet. We don’t hear much from her. We know he is sick often and had to control her coughing so it is not to heard. Anne, (11) is a “chatty” box, vivacious, creative, intelligent for her age, a writer whose vivid imaginations made her able to survived two years in captivity, by allowing her mind to wonder through parks outside, places she liked, and memories of her school days and friends, and writing about them in her diary . And it was that diary, that she used used as her “confidant,” that many years later (l947) told the world the story of Hatred.
The realistic set design of KUO-HAO LO, showing the two floors of the “hiding place” the upper floor with three bedrooms one for the Van Daans, another for the Frank parents and the third one for their daughter, ( shared with Mr. Kraile) and downstairs the Large Living room/dinning room/ family room, where all gather, to eat, play games or hear the radio. Peter’s bedroom, one bathroom and a stove, visually makes us understand how hard it must have been to live for two years, in those conditions. The costumes, designed by SHANNON MAXHAM, replicate the costumes of the forties. The play is moving. And its story real.
VIC PROSAC as Otto and RONEET ALIZA RAHAMIM as Anne
But the beauty of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, is that eventhough all the members of the Frank family are dead, their inspirational story will remain alive as long as we remember the photographs of the incinerated Jewish people in the concentration camps and as a nation, we promise to ourselves that we will never allow hatred for different races to erode our hearts.
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK will play at the Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto until November 20. For tickets online go to www.paplayers.org or order them by phone at (650) 329-089l.