Jewish Theatre Ensemble to put on Diary of Anne Frank

The Jewish Theatre Ensemble will be putting on a production of Anne Frank. Members of the production organized additional programming to increase conversation about the Holocaust.

Source: Dylan Pager

The Jewish Theatre Ensemble will be putting on a production of Anne Frank. Members of the production organized additional programming to increase conversation about the Holocaust.

Rebecca Savransky, Assistant Campus Editor

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The Jewish Theatre Ensemble will put on a production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” starting Thursday, with hopes of sparking conversation about lessons from the Holocaust.

The show, based on a true story, is focused on the life of a young girl who is growing up in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. To escape religious persecution, she and her family are forced to hide out in an attic to avoid being sent to concentration camps. The play documents their story during the length of the Holocaust through Frank’s diary, which was recovered when the war ended.

Communication  junior Dylan Pager, the show’s director, said “Anne Frank” was his first choice when choosing a show to put on. He said he was excited about the opportunity to direct the play due to his strong association with Judaism and his personal experiences.

“I visited The Secret Annex, the Anne Frank museum and was so completely inspired by the story there that as soon I got home I ordered the script and read it,” Pager said.

The 12-person cast has been rehearsing for about five weeks and will be putting on six shows between Thursday and Sunday, Pager said. 

In an effort to increase conversation about the Holocaust, a discussion was organized with School of Education and Social Policy Prof. Danny Cohen Tuesday to talk about the different visions and representations of the Holocaust in literature and creative works.

“He brought in a few quotes to talk about how in some level in trying to understand the Holocaust, we diminish it, but it’s still a meaningful pursuit for us to try to understand it,” said Communication senior Gavi Keyles, who is playing Anne Frank in the production and serves as JTE’s artistic director.

The organization will also be putting on a special free showing Sunday morning aimed toward students and community members who do not normally attend theater performances. Members of the production said they reached out to synagogues and day schools in the area to encourage members to attend.

Following the Sunday morning show, there will be an open discussion where cast members will engage the audience in conversation addressing Holocaust education, said Communication sophomore Kate Leggett, the show’s producer.

Keyles said she enjoyed being a part of the production and hopes individuals understand although Frank was a “symbol of hope in the face of adversity,” the show ultimately “doesn’t end up happy and doesn’t leave you smiling.”

“It’s so important to firstly remember that we’re not trying to pretend we understand what it feels like to be victims of the Holocaust but instead trying to represent the truth of these people as human beings, to have people realize just how much gravity the situation held,” Keyles said.

Leggett said she is looking forward to the start of the show and hopes the audience will embrace all of the different elements it has to offer.

“It’s a beautiful show,” Leggett said. “It is a show about a little girl who loved a boy and who had problems with her mom sometimes and who fought with her big sister, and her life is sort of marked by this incomprehensible tragedy. But her life itself is not a tragedy, and that’s what we try to find in the show, is moments of light amidst the darkness.“