By Tanisha Gunby ’21
Students performed in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” this year’s middle school play, with four performances from Nov. 17 to 19 in the Katzenberg Black Box Theatre. Performing Arts Teacher Jim Doughan directed the play, which included 10 actors from eighth and ninth grade. The play is based on the book, “Anne Frank: Diary Of A Young Girl,” dramatized by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett. They rehearsed for two hours from Monday to Friday for eight weeks.
“The Diary of Anne Frank,” tells the story of Anne Frank (Greta Zumbrunnen ’21), a Jewish girl who escaped the Nazis by going into hiding during World War II. She lived in an annex in Amsterdam for two years with seven others including her parents (Taylor Dees ’21 and James Johnson-Brown ’21), sister (Maayan Milchan ’21), Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan (Kyle Reims ’21 and Emery Genga ’21) and their son Peter (Walt Schoen ’21.) A dentist named Mr. Dussel (Mak Kriksciun ’21) joins them a little while later.
Joy Ho ’22, who plays Miep Gies, and Alon Moradi ’21, who plays Mr. Kraler, help the families by providing them with food and shelter. After many years, Anne’s father, Otto Frank, who is the only survivor among them, finds her diary when he returns to the annex. The play reveals her thoughts about their situation and describes the events that had happened during those years. He later published the diary as a testimony to her optimism and existence. Anne believed that despite all the atrocities of the World War II, it was a passing phase and that humans were innately good.
Doughan said he chose this play because he felt it was relevant to current events.
“I thought it was a story that needed to be told again. We need a reminder about hope, especially in this time of building walls and Charlottesville and all the other horrible things that are going on in this world,” Doughan said.
Cast members said they enjoyed performing the play.
“I love the whole experience of the play because I have made friends with people in the cast that I know will last for the whole time I am at Harvard-Westlake. When I am playing the character of Mrs. Van Daan, I get to become completely another person, and I love exploring her emotions and really finding out how to make the character my own,” Genga said.
The audience said they liked watching this performance and the actors. They said that they were deeply engaged by the play and moved by many scenes.
“The play was really good, and the actors portrayed their characters really well. They showed lots of emotion, and they showed that they really cared about the play,” Maddy Redmond ’22 said.