Will WJ S*T*A*G*E uphold Anne Frank’s legacy?


Photo courtesy of History.com

WJ Stage will be putting on the Diary of Anne Frank in November 2019. The play is based off of Frank’s first hand accounts of hiding with her family during the Holocaust.

In August 1944, the Nazis apprehended a group of Jews concealed behind a movable bookcase in the Netherlands. Following the arrest, a journal written by a young girl in the family was found, detailing the life in hiding. Published in 1947, The Diary of Anne Frank would go on to be one of the most popular books in the world. Since its release, it has been taught in schools and adapted into film and theatre productions, such as the one WJ S*T*A*G*E will be performing this November.

A thespian spectacle of a diary about a Jewish girl’s life in the Holocaust can go awry. Can high school students living more than a half-century after the war really capture the tragedy of the 15 year old girl hiding from the Gestapo with her family? Though well intentioned, will they be able to properly portray Frank’s writings, or will the acting be dull and inaccurate? I have nothing against high school theatre (I myself perform outside of school), but sometimes certain themes can be a bit too mature for teens to fully grasp.

On the other hand, who could possibly be more fit to play a teenager than an actual teenager? Although the majority of Frank’s writing documents her life in hiding, she also often mentions feelings and experiences nearly anyone can relate to, such as family drama, the need for a best friend and love interests. And with as much information as we have now on the Holocaust, it would be easy to read Frank’s diary and other first-hand accounts to get into the mind of Frank and the atmosphere of the war.

Additionally, the play allows for non-readers to learn about Anne Frank and her story without ever having to open a book. In this way, it appeals to both the younger and older generations. Teens can watch the show to get at least a little idea of that horrifying part of history and adults can appreciate the way the arts can captivate their children’s attention in a way in which regular history books often cannot.

Because of that influence, the play is a great approach to spreading awareness of the atrocities of the Holocaust, which can sometimes be a bit overlooked or rushed in the school curriculum. Especially after last year’s behavior at the Schindler’s List movie showing, which clearly indicated how immature and unaware many teens are of the events of the Holocaust, educating the school on Frank’s story could only have good consequences.

No, I don’t think a high school’s interpretation of Frank’s diary will be so well performed that it’ll keep the audience crying and on the edge of their seats, but what I am sure of is that by just honoring this piece of history and putting the show on, WJ S*T*A*G*E* will touch the hearts of everyone watching.