Civic Presents: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
February 10–25, 2023
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays @ 7:00 p.m.
Sundays@ 2:00 p.m.
February 15–17, 2023 @ 10:30 a.m.
February 24, 2023 @ 10:30 a.m.
In this transcendently powerful new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman, Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time with astonishing honesty, wit, and determination. An impassioned drama about the lives of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK captures the claustrophobic realities of their daily existence — their fear, their hope, their laughter, their grief. Each day of these two dark years, Anne’s voice shines through: “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!” This is a new adaptation for a new generation. (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.)
Purchase tickets at thecenterpresents.org.
I spoke with a few of the lead cast members and their remarkable director, Claire Wilcher, about how they’ve been preparing for this powerful production that requires the actors and crew to capture all of the human emotions and portray eight ordinary human beings whose lives became extraordinary through the diary of Anne Frank.
The cast and crew will be taking the audiences on a trip back in time, but as director Wilcher says, “We’re not telling a Holocaust story, we’re — we’re telling a story of humans living in the Holocaust time.”
Based on Anne Frank’s diary, this production explores the relationships between Anne and her sister, Margot Frank, as well as with Peter Van Daan and the adults who lived in the secret annex. It also takes a deeper dive into the relationships between the adults, providing audiences with an authentic depiction of the day-to-day goings on for these eight humans. The set itself provides visuals of life within the annex as well as projections of historical images of the atrocities that were occurring outside of the walls that protected the inhabitants of the annex for just a little over 2 years.
Claire Wilcher – Director
The story of Anne Frank really coincides with my love of literature, and in capturing the story through the eyes of Anne [Frank], we get a snapshot of history through a young person’s eyes. I took this [production] on because I love making theater and working with young artists. I love doing dramatic theater because there is room for levity, hope and heart in the saddest of pieces. I enjoy the challenge of walking that fine line of honoring, in memoriam, and respecting the story while bringing out the love and joy that we get from the story, because Anne’s joy and inherent love of creating, writing and connecting shows that she was a person that really cared for people. Anne Frank is a historical touchstone for just about everybody. It was a no-brainer for me when I was asked to take on the project to say yes. Civic is professional … all the way. I can’t image a better environment to tackle such a subject.
Gemma Rollison – Anne Frank
There’s definitely a lot of research that had to be done. Honestly, there was so much that I didn’t understand. I’ve watched a lot of movies and read books and read what [Anne] actually wrote. She was aware of the situation that was going on around her and still had love and joy in her heart. I think my eyes have been opened, in a lot of different ways, to who this girl actually was, her story and her history.
I feel that, in a way, this role has been easier for me than others because I feel that [Anne] was very similar to me in that she was fiery and always had a lot to say. She was curious and, like a detective, she was always exploring.
Rebecca Piñero – Margot Frank
I am an older sister of two younger siblings, and I feel like I understand [Margot]. She makes sense to me. And the actions that she takes towards Anne, the protectiveness that she feels over Anne — as an older sister, I completely relate to her role in the family.
The unification that these people felt even in dark times, and the joy that they felt … they focused on the triumphs throughout that time. Learning about this piece of history and humanizing these people is very important to me.
Garrett Rowe – Peter Van Daan
Peter has a lot of guards up, and he’s at that age where he’s a lot more self-conscious. At 16, he’s not very confident and looks down on himself. It’s an opposition to Anne, who’s more carefree and sees the world differently.
I was reading into the death marching, and it struck a chord with me. And knowing that I am playing a role that was a real person, I think is really impactful. I am finding ways to bring the character to life while making sure that I’m presenting [Peter] in the truest way possible.
If I could tell Peter anything, it would be that he is worthy. I’d say, “You are enough. You don’t need to prove yourself. And then, I’d give him a hug. I think he would have needed a hug.
Sydney Pinchouck – Anne/Margot Swing
Both characters have such different personalities, but they connect so well. It’s really an honor getting to learn about both of them. I’m so glad that I get to connect with both characters, and I’m having a lot of fun with it.
I’ve always felt a bit of a connection with Anne because I’ve been raised celebrating both Jewish and Christian holidays because my parents are different religions. I’ve read The Diary of a Young Girl, and Anne really helped me connect and understand my Jewish heritage.
I wanted to be part of this show because it’s really thrilling to actually be part of this story that has had such an impact on my life. And I hope that it’s going to make an impact on somebody else.
Anne Frank – Gemma Rollison
Margot Frank – Rebecca Piñero
Anne/Margot Swing – Sydney Pinchouck
Mrs. Frank – Brittany Magee
Mr. Frank – David Wood
Peter Van Daan – Garrett Rowe
Mrs. Van Daan – Carrie Reiberg
Mr. Van Daan – Jay Hemphill
Mr. Dussel – Mookie Harris
Miep Gies – Kelsey VanVoorst
Mr. Kraler – Kevin Caraher