“The Diary of Anne Frank” runs at the Gilbert Theater from May 26 to June 4. Many people are familiar with the story. The diary records the experiences of the 13-year-old Anne Frank and her family who hid from Nazis in the Netherlands.
The book captures the daily experiences the family lived during the two years they spent trapped in an attic. At times it is difficult to read and the ending is jarring, but this story offers an invaluable glimpse into the human experience of some of the darkest times in human history from the eyes of a hopeful young girl.
Despite the heavy premise of this work, it is not all about death and destruction and it most certainly is not a relic of the past. World War II is over, but many of the problems the Frank family grappled with are still very relevant today. The story is tightly focused on a single family in a small period of time, but they deal with universally relevant human themes. “Everyone should see this play. ... It is still relevant to today’s climate, politically and socially. It’s about love and hope,” Director Brian Adam Kline explained.
Taking a book and adapting it to the stage can be very difficult, but live productions can make stories much more personal and real. Seeing a person act out emotions and situations adds a layer of immediacy that printed words can fail to capture.
Transforming “The Diary of Anne Frank” into a live production is particularly difficult, in part because of the delicate historical nature of the show. “As a director, I have tried to approach this play with great attention to detail. It was so important to me to do this right. This play is not just an adaption of the diary but also a historical memorial to Anne, her family, her housemates and the victims of the Holocaust. This production has always been for them,” Kline said.
The amount of time and effort that everyone at the Gilbert Theater has put into creating a respectful and accurate production of The Diary of Anne Frank is astounding. “I spent a year of research on the diary, the history, the people and the environment,” said Kline. “I contacted the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and they were so vital in my exploration of this world. I had to get it as close as I could. We used photographs to match the colors of the house, costuming and hair. With the long task of preproduction, finding the best actors and crew, production challenges seemed to be smoother,” Kline added.
The biggest challenge the production has faced is in spacing. The Gilbert Theater is smaller than the Anne Frank House, but creative use of space has allowed the cast and crew to maintain the integrity of the story and the history.
Perhaps the smaller space will enhance the audience’s feelings of personal involvement and help the production’s themes hit home. Tickets can be purchased at www.gilberttheater.com.