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Saint John Theatre Company Shares The Diary of Anne Frank with Area Schools

by Tracy Lutz - Thursday, October 20, 2016

As part of its production of The Diary of Anne Frank, the Saint John Theatre Company has been generously opening its doors to schools for morning performances. On Wednesday, 12 October Ms. Lutz's IB English 10 class had the pleasure of watching the company's moving performance. Afterwards, the students were asked to comment on the stagecraft, the characters and the value of such an experience. Below are some of their comments.

"I feel there were many strengths in the stagecraft, but I think the best were the sound and the set. The stage and the space for the audience was really crammed so it helped me feel what it was like to live in such a small place back then. Also, the sound effects of the police, the bombs, the radio and even the thief helped me understand the nervousness and the worrying of when the Nazis will come get them. It made me freeze and hold my breath with the characters any time there was a thump and it made me jump with the characters when the radio came on or they heard the police and the bombs."

"I really liked how the producers used the lighting to separate the storylines. It showed that even if they all live together for a long time, they kept secrets from each other and had time on their own in privacy. My favourite part was when they focused on each character and they told us what they are looking forward to when the war is over."

"Another strength was the clothing of the characters. The differences in each character's clothing gave an idea of how their lives were before they had to go into hiding, especially Mrs. Van Daan with her fancy clothing and fur coat. It showed how cruel the war really was, because even if the Van Daan family was rich, their lives were still in danger just because they were Jewish."

"I think the strength in The Diary of Anne Frank was the way the set was laid out in the theatre because it almost blended in with the real building. It was dark and the set seemed like it belonged there. I think that the way that the writing was projected onto the set was cool because it was a subtle way to show Anne's private life. It put all the focus onto the diary and reminded us that this is a real diary with real writing from Anne's actual experiences."

"One of my favourite characters was Mrs. Van Daan because I thought she was interesting to watch. She had two different personalities, one was her younger, rich self in a fur coat when she was remembering her father and the other was her older self during the time of the war who was much older, sadder, and emptier."

"There was also a set of characters that I disliked so much that I couldn't help but like them. The Nazi officers were played very well and the very second they burst onto set, they evoked a rush of fear, horror, and dread in the audience for the families whose stories we had just watched unfold. Those two Nazi officers were so great at showing how terrifying that moment of capture was to the families that the officers became two of my favourite characters who I like because of how much I disliked them."

"The actor for Otto was outstanding. He did an amazing job, especially at the end during the epilogue; he was very well spoken and even offered up some tears to really cement the meaning of the play, at least for me."

"My favourite characters were Miep Gies and Mr. Kraler because, despite the danger, they were still willing to help the Franks and the Van Daans. They were always ready to help the two families and never brought up the fact that it could cost their lives."

"I found that Anne Frank herself was the character that I liked the most. I liked that she was always positive, even in their time of hardship. The fact that Anne could stay strong and share her joy with the people she was with showed that just because they were in a bad situation did not mean they couldn't still be happy. I also liked Anne because I could relate to her and I could somewhat understand how she was growing up, being as we are both teenage girls. I understood that growing up as a girl is difficult, and I admired Anne for doing that all while hiding from the Nazis. Anne Frank was full of courage and she always had hope, and that is why I liked her the most."

"My favourite character was Mrs. Frank because she was realistic in dealing with conflict. She faced their situation as anyone would've. Her regards for the safety of her children and her kind personality made her a believable and lovable character."

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