OAKHURST — The Yosemite High School Theater Arts Department presents the classic coming of age story told during World War II, from a young girl’s perspective, in The Diary of Anne Frank. The production will be presented in a Living Museum theatrical format, says Department Chair Lars Thorson. That will include live music, video projections, and a degenerate art show along with the performance of the play.
The Diary of Anne Frank takes the YHS stage Thursday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
The play was adapted in 1955 from the diary of a young girl who went into hiding with her Jewish family, in Amsterdam, during World War II.
“Her family was from Germany, but once Hitler came to power her father moved his import spice business to Amsterdam. Once the Nazis took over the Netherlands, Mr. Frank devised a hiding place in the loft of his business.
“The Frank family, along with another family and a Jewish dentist, lived in secret in the annex for more than two years. The play follows their journey as told from Anne’s point of view. Throughout the play we see Anne grow from an awkward 13-year-old girl into a poised young woman.”
Theater teacher Thorson first directed this play for YHS in 2005. Now, he has taken a different approach for the production.
“I wanted to create a larger theatrical experience this time around, so I decided to include other elements from the time period to enrich the production.”
The program will feature students singing songs made famous by period French singer Edith Piaf, and there will also be an art show.
“Our Art teacher, Evan Higgins, explained to me that during Hitler’s reign he only allowed Classical art to be displayed publically,” Thorson notes. “Artists who worked in different styles would create underground shows that were called ‘degenerate’ art shows. We decided to use YHS student work to create such a show for this production.”
The artwork represents the actual people who were involved in the Frank’s story, says the director.
“These two women were people who were not Jewish, but brought food and news to the Franks while they were in hiding for more than two years. Above the stage playing area we will hang these ten black and white renderings.
“My thought is that they remind us that this story is about actual people who lived and died during the Holocaust, as well as those who helped the Jews. There were many Dutch citizens like these ladies who worked in the underground helping people survive Hitler’s atrocities.”
The evenings will also feature video clips, adding background and context about the war for the audience.
“Students learn about World War II, but I want them to have a more visceral experience, to really see and understand what the Jews and other groups endured during the war,” says Thorson.
Most of the roles in the play are assigned to multiple actors. Thorson says he did this intentionally so that the audience could see different people playing Anne or the parents.
“To me, it helps reinforce the idea that many, many people suffered in the Holocaust. Instead of it being a story of these eight people in an Annex in Amsterdam, it becomes more universal.”
The cast includes:
Otto Frank Noah Allen, Bryce Talbot, Jack Rice
Edith Frank Olivia Mattos, Makayla Cunnings, Abigail Williams
Anne Frank Emilie Neff, Lauren Wharton, Alli Ruiz, Elissa Suderman
Margot Frank Cindra Jimenez, Alaura Ferris, Siena Oswald, Meagan Rich
Mr. Van Daan Joel Doss, Peter Cresci, Jacob Pitkanen
Mrs Van Daan Ari Bhalla, Brandi Sneed, Mary Weigel
Peter Van Daan Hunter Palmer, Ethan Conti, Ben Johnson
Dussel Jerome Garcellanos, Hailey Rich
Miep Hannah Harper, Meagan Rich, Monique Ades
Mrs. Kraler Haley Hammond
For more information on the production, please call (559) 683-4667 ext. 256.