"Hearing one person tell their story gave a completely different perspective to what happened, as it wasn't about statistics or about a nation as a whole, but one person who lost his family and home." ~O. Avery (student)

Anne Frank Theater Project Performs to Receptive Audience at Klein Branch

A demonstration of the Anne Frank Theater Project’s 45 minute adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank emotionally moved a packed audience at the Polansky Theater, JCC Klein Branch in Philadelphia, Sunday March 21, 2010. Sobs could be heard in the audience that included educators, students, holocaust survivors, and dignitaries.

The play was presented by the Holocaust Awareness Museum, which now sponsors the Project, bringing it to schools and organizations throughout the Delaware Valley. The adaptation of the original Broadway play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett was performed by six exceptionally talented actors, directed by Carla Childs and produced by Sharon Geller. The play focused on Anne Frank, a gifted writer and not always likable teenager, as she, her family and another family hid from the Nazis to save their own lives during the Holocaust.

After the performance, producer Geller demonstrated how she would facilitate a discussion of the issues brought up in the play with students and others. Members of the audience identified acts of kindness that occurred between the characters in the play, despite the harsh circumstances in which they found themselves. Other topics often discussed after the play is staged include tolerance and diversity, bullying, and consequences of actions. Audience members were also able to question the actors about their roles and how they felt about playing these complicated characters.

The program was introduced by JCC Klein Branch co-chair Gary Freedman. Chuck Feldman, president of the Holocaust Museum, also made some brief remarks. In the audience were several dignitaries including representatives of PA State Senator Mike Stack’s office; State Senator Christine M. Tartaglione; Phila.Councilman Bill Greenlee; Aaron Finestone representing Phila.Councilman Brian O’Neill; Lee Soltysiak of gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel’s office; and Keith Newman, candidate for PA State Representative. Also attending were Adam Kessler, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Philadelphia and Diane Steinbrink, one of the founders of the Anne Frank Project. Several holocaust survivors who perform student outreach were in the audience.
Some 80 people attended a brunch after the program to hear more about the Holocaust Awareness Museum and its goals. Brunch attendees watched a DVD showing the survivor outreach and other educational programs the organization sponsors. Many attendees pledged volunteer and/or significant financial support for the organization.

The Anne Frank Project has performed to more than 19,000 students and organizations and is suitable for audiences of about 200 from sixth grade students to senior citizens. The project also presents a second play, Lida Stein and the Righteous Gentile, which focuses on how Jewish and non-Jewish teens coped with the social and political upheaval when the Nazis implemented the Nuremberg Laws that isolated and restricted Jews. For information or to schedule a program or performance please contact the Holocaust Awareness Museum by phone at (215) 464-4701 or by email at holocaustawarenessmuseum@gmail.com