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Syracuse Stage to present ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’
Syracuse Stage to present ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’March 16, 2009Patrick Finlonstagepr@syr.edu
The story is simplicity itself. A young girl, alive to everything around her and awakening within her, with hopes and dreams of the life she may one day lead with friends and family, confides to her diary the secrets of her heart. That diary, as we all know, becomes one of the lasting documents of the 20th century, a testament to the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of the horrors we know so well. Running March 31 to May 3 at Syracuse Stage, “The Diary of Anne Frank” will be directed by producing artistic director Timothy Bond.
Cast members include professional actors from New York, professional actors from Syracuse, and students from the Department of Drama in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. Tickets are available at the Syracuse Stage Box Office at 820 E. Genesee St., by telephone at (315) 443-3275 or at http://www.SyracuseStage.org.
An impassioned drama about the lives of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage annex, “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.”
Anne’s diary, first published in 1947, was edited by her father, Otto Frank, who, due to the sensitivities of the time, deleted some of Anne’s writings having to do with her dislikes toward others in the annex, her budding attraction to Peter Van Daan and her thoughts about the darkness of the world outside. The 1995 version of the diary restored much of the deleted material, serving as inspiration for Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of the 1955 play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Receiving a 1997 Tony nomination for her work, Kesselman has stated that her goal in reworking the play was “to make [Anne’s] words shine.”
“In this version you see Anne as a multifaceted 13-year-old girl, optimistic yet fully aware of the horrors happening around her. There’s an honesty and power in her humanity that makes this version more accessible, especially to children,” says Bond. “Anne was a born writer, an incredibly self-aware artist beyond her years. She understood what was going on in the world around her, which makes her final page extremely powerful.”
After hearing a radio announcement asking for accounts from Jews, Anne set about editing her diary, going back over a two year period. “I believe Anne would absolutely have wanted her story told-she told it herself, revised it painstakingly, wanted it published after the war,” states Kesselman. Writing in The New Yorker in October 1997, the essayist and novelist Cynthia Ozick said: “[Anne] was born to be a writer. At 13, she felt her power; at 15, she was in command of it. It is easy to imagine-had she been allowed to live-a long row of novels and essays spilling from her fluent and ripening pen. We can be certain (as certain as one can be of anything hypothetical) that her mature prose would today be noted for its wit and acuity.”
Syracuse Stage is Central New York’s premier professional theatre. Founded as a not-for-profit theatre in 1974 by Arthur Storch, Stage has produced more than 220 plays in 35 seasons including numerous world and American premieres. Each season upwards of 90,000 patrons enjoy an exciting mix of comedies, dramas and musicals featuring the finest professional theatre artists. In addition, Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves more than 30,000 students from 24 counties. Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theater, and a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). In addition to ticket sales, Syracuse Stage performances are made possible by funds from Syracuse University, the Central New York Community Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, Onondaga County and corporate, foundation and individual donors.