Local theater artist returns to instill history, direct ‘Diary of Anne Frank’
In an age filled with Facebook, tweets and texts, it’s understandable that a teenager today might have difficulty trying to relate to a young Jewish girl losing everything, living in an attic for two years and fearing for her life.
But 26-year-old Andie Anderson hopes to change all that.
The Carson City woman has been attending Emerson College in Boston since September, working on her master’s degree in theater education. She is back home this summer, working on a unique master’s thesis.
Anderson is leading a Holocaust education workshop in conjunction with directing “The Diary of Anne Frank” for the BAC Stage Kids.
“That play has been on my list to do for a number of years. Then one of my students had to read a biography of Anne Frank and was complaining about having no interest in it because she didn’t understand what it meant or why it was important, and she didn’t understand the characters,” Anderson said.
“I asked her if she could put herself in Anne’s place – losing everything and having to hide, fearing she would lose her life – and she said she felt nothing. She felt no connection to Anne or empathy for the people of that time,” Anderson said.
That revelation set Anderson to thinking that she might be able to remedy the disconnect.
“I decided to teach through theater and to cross over curricular boundaries,” she said.
Anderson was born and raised in Carson City and has performed in the Carson City, Reno and Lake Tahoe area since 1991. She has been artistic director for the BAC Stage Kids since 1991, and she says her thesis will become important to the youngsters involved in the project.
“I’m using dramatic techniques and language arts techniques to study history and the impact and lessons of the Holocaust and that moment in time,” Anderson said. “I have learned a great deal in one of the most artistically and culturally diverse cities in the country, and I’m excited to share my new knowledge and experience with this community.”
The workshops and rehearsals started last week for the 25 students in middle school and high school, who attend for six hours a day, four days a week. The first week was devoted to scene-blocking and education. Rehearsals started this week.
Students already have done some journaling about their experience and delved into topics such as civic responsibility, bullying, navigating moral dilemmas and the importance of recording and sharing their own stories.
“Even after learning so much about (the Holocaust) in school, I still learned more, and now I find myself at home thinking about kids my age not having the things I have,” 15-year-old Hannah Anthony said in her journal.
Sara Session, 14, wrote about her experience with the workshop.
“While the topics are serious, sad and scary, the activities to help me learn about them were fun to think about and really tested my skills,” Sara said.
And Taylor Koop, 13, has already developed empathy for the Holocaust victims.
“This is very hard, but we need to know this happened in our past. If this happened to us now, it would be so hard losing my family. We don’t know what it would really feel like, and let’s hope we never will,” Taylor wrote.
The play, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman, is intended to bring the world of Anne Frank to life for the teens.
Students who will play all the characters, including Anne and the other residents of the Secret Annex. Several will serve as technicians, assistant stage managers and student directors.
The four-week workshop ends Aug. 11, and will culminate in two weekend performances at Brewery Arts Center’s Maizie Harris Jesse Theatre, formerly the Black Box Theater. Performances are set for 7 p.m. Aug. 12-13 and Aug. 19-20. Matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. on Aug. 14 and Aug. 21.
“It’s a very fast program, and so far, everything seems to be moving along just fine. The kids are really engaged and are putting some of the things they’ve learned into their performances,” Anderson said.
“I believe it is important, in these times of struggle and hardship, to look back at lessons learned from history to help us move forward,” she said, “and it is this generation of young people – our future leaders – who will benefit most from these lessons.”
What: BAC Stage Kids production of “Diary of Anne Frank”
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 12, 13, 19, 20; and 2 p.m. Aug. 14 and 21
Where: Brewery Arts Center’s Maizie Harris Jesse Theatre