The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

WJ STAGE Diary of Anne Frank

WJ STAGE Diary of Anne Frank

WJ S*T*A*G*E’s new play, The Diary of Anne Frank, is in rehearsals now and will be shown on Nov. 11, 12, 18 and 19. The play chronicles the life of Anne Frank, a 13-year-old girl at the time of Nazi-occupied Holland, from 1942-1944. The Frank family, along with another family (the Van Daans), end up hiding in an annex above a condiment factory in order to avoid detection by the Nazis. Anne recorded the events of this time in her diary, which was published by her father as Diary of a Young Girl in 1947, and then adapted into this play. The Pitch decided to get a closer look at some of the cast members. Here is a Q&A with seniors Gavin Kaplan (GK), Eddie Simon (ES) and Bea Owens (BO), as well as some insight on their different perspectives on the show.

What is your character like? What do you think of him/her?

GK: I play Mr. Van Daan, Peter’s dad. We are the other family that was living with the Franks in the secret annex. He’s awful, a terrible father, gluttonous, mean, short tempered. It’s more fun to play nasty people.

ES: I play Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, which is a fairly difficult role to play. He’s an incredibly caring, loving, selfless man, trying his very best to take care of his family and his friends in a very dark time. The only points in the play where he loses his composure are when he needs to protect other characters or mediate arguments. His altruism and endless desire to help people almost seem unrealistic. I think it’s a very difficult role mainly because of the age I have to portray. He has lived half a lifetime and experienced many things that someone my age definitely has not. Nonetheless, I think he is a fascinating character, since he is what keeps the group from falling apart.

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BO: I am playing Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister. I can’t quite call it playing, or refer to her as a character, because these were real people, not fictional characters someone created by putting pen to paper. Margot was a quiet, mature, compassionate young woman, who was very much a compliment to Anne’s outgoing, curious, and adventurous personality. I love Margot, and I think there are aspects of her personality that we have in common. I truly see her as the one who suffers the emotional trauma most visibly and in that I have found real sympathy and understanding for her and all the characters, more so than I had already.

What is your favorite thing about S*T*A*G*E?

GK: It’s always fun to be someone else for a little while, but it’s also the people [on S*T*A*G*E].

ES: My favorite thing about S*T*A*G*E is the camaraderie. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of drama, gossiping and cutthroat competition. There is actually an absurd amount of each of those things. However, somehow, as the cast nears hell week (the week before the show opens when we have rehearsal until 10:00 p.m. each night) we manage to put all of that aside and become closer with each cast member. It’s really incredible; there may be people who you downright despise, but come opening night they are your best friends. Everyone participating in the show knows what the goal is and is determined to accomplish it.

BO: I really love so much about S*T*A*G*E, but really it’s the chance to try new things, learn, and grow as a person and an actor while surrounded by so many great people! There’s never a dull moment!

What was the audition process like?

GK: Ms. Mac first gives us a spiel about not being a baby about getting parts, and then she gives us a couple of choices of scenes we can do. Everyone gets in groups depending on how many people are in the scene they want to do. Then we come in and read them for Ms. Mac, Mr. Bos, and whoever else they have invited.

ES: Even for my sixth show with S*T*A*G*E, the audition process was pretty nerve-wracking. [I had to] perform numerous scenes and in some cases monologues in front of all of the kids auditioning. Oddly enough, I get more nervous performing in front of a small group of people up close than I get performing on stage for hundreds of people. Ms. Mac, Mr. Bos and any other people helping with casting want to give everyone a fair shot, so they don’t make the veterans feel any more comfortable than the newbies. It’s just as intense for each person auditioning no matter how well Mac and actually knows you. I just try to go in and give my best audition every time.

BO: The audition process is set over two days. In the general audition, you choose a scene with a few other people, practice for about 20-30 minutes, and then line up and wait for your chance to perform your scene. Then you wait for the callback list. During callbacks you read for specific parts from a few scenes. The whole process is nerve-wracking but exciting. Those of us in S*T*A*G*E spend quite a bit of time checking for the cast list online.

What are you looking forward to most about this particular show?

GK: The thing that I’m looking forward to most is hell week. As awful and sleep depriving as it is, it’s really when the show comes together and you get really close with everyone.

ES: This show is very difficult but also special, because none of the characters leave the stage at any point. That is far from typical of any type of theater. Due to the nature of the play, being hidden in an annex, all of which is part of the set, each character remains on stage for the entirety of the show. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of keeping my character going for an hour and a half straight. In most shows you are forced to break character backstage to fix a mic, get some water, get help with your costume, etc., but in this case I have no choice but to remain in character for the whole time. That means instead of acting like Mr. Frank I get to really become Mr. Frank for a good hour and a half. It will be incredibly difficult, but a whole lot of fun.

BO: I haven’t been in as many plays with S*T*A*G*E [as I have musicals], and so I’m really looking forward to the chance to work on my acting in a non-musical setting. Also [I’m excited for] the chance to do a show with so much history, and tragedy, and let people in the school and community see what the lives of the Franks and Van Daans were really like.

Are there any interesting behind-the-scenes things you’d like to tell me?

GK: There is a lot of slapping of cheeks during rehearsals. All kinds of cheeks.

ES: Most people probably don’t know that the boys and girls each have their own “top-secret” traditions that take place every show night. In all seriousness, the boys and girls do not discuss each other’s tradition, and if someone were to do so, they would be in serious trouble. I can’t even say anything more than that about the boys’ tradition or I’d be in lots of trouble, and like I said, I’m not allowed to know about girls’. Also, I often accredit my being in S*T*A*G*E to the unbelievable Pasta potluck dinner that the parents make for us the Thursday before opening night. It is the best meal I get all year. I usually have three full overloaded plates of dinner and then 2 plates of dessert, and then Ms. Mac yells me at when I’m too sick to do the run-through afterwards.

BO: This is an incredibly difficult show to put on, for staging reasons and the simple fact that we are portraying something that really happened. The work going into this show is tremendous, the cast and crew are all incredible!

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