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New Anne Frank play opening in Amsterdam
Question of the Day
AMSTERDAM (AP) - Anne Frank’s tragic story is returning to the stage in Amsterdam, hoping to engage a whole new generation with the Jewish teenager whose diary is the most famous chronicle of life under Nazi occupation.
Thursday’s opening is the first time a theatrical production has been forged directly from Frank’s actual writings since an award-winning 1950s play that escalated her tale - then little-known - to the world’s attention.
“A lot of people think they know the story, but once you see this you will get to know a lot of details you don’t realize,” producer Robin de Levita told The Associated Press in an interview.
“We show historical footage to create a relationship between what happened in real time and what happened while they were in hiding,” De Levita said. “We follow her whole life and look over her shoulder, see what she experienced.”
The play is being staged in a specially-built 1,100-seat theater in Amsterdam’s west port area. The 15-meter-high (50-foot) stage includes a revolving replica of the secret canal-side apartment where Frank and her family hid for 18 months from the Nazi forces occupying the Netherlands in World War II. They were betrayed in 1944 and deported.
“You can see the relationship between the rooms, between the people, what actually happened while they were in hiding,” De Levita said.
Anne died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp weeks before it was liberated in 1945. Her father, Otto Frank, survived Auschwitz and later published Anne’s diary, which had been saved by Miep Gies, one of the Dutch “helpers” that brought the family food and other supplies.
The play also features multimedia elements incorporating music and film. Although the actors speak Dutch, starting in July there will be headphone translations into several major languages, along with a synopsis for computer tablets or smartphones.
The Anne Frank Fonds in Basel, Switzerland, which owns rights to the diary and oversees the Frank family legacy, said it sought out theater-makers and scriptwriters in the Netherlands, hoping a new theatrical production could promote its mission.
“It’s important to have an educational program which will bring in today’s times the story of Anne Frank to a young kind of audience,” said Fonds spokesman Yves Kugelmann.
The Dutch script was written by one of the Netherlands‘ best-known literary couples, Leon de Winter and Jessica Durlacher. Tickets range from 20-70 euros ($25-$100) but the Fond’s licensing fees go to UNICEF, the U.N. children’s fund.
The original Broadway play “The Diary of Anne Frank,” won the Tony Award for best play in 1956 - beating out Tennessee William’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” - and won a Pulitzer Prize for drama.
That made people re-examine the diary, which had not initially been successful. The diary has since gone on to become the most widely-read document to emerge from the Holocaust.
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