The Diary of Anne Frank
2022/2023, September 8 opens the new season at Teatro da Trindade/Fundação Inatel, with the premiere of The Diary of Anne Frank. 1942-1944 is the period in which Anne Frank, a 13-year-old teenager, was in hiding with her family (her father Otto Frank, her mother Edith Frank and her sister Margot), a couple of friends with a son and another man. All in the attic of Otto’s offices, Amsterdam, due to the Nazi regime’s persecution of Jews. Eight people lived hidden in a shelter for two years until they were discovered by the Nazis and deported to different concentration camps. Only Anne Frank’s father escaped death. After finding his daughter’s diary, which died at the age of 15 in the Bergen-Belsen camp, he allowed its publication in 1947.
With personal testimonies like this, we remember history, leaving open the possibility of rethinking it to resist today’s great challenges. This is one of the benefits of this adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, in the version by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and directed by Marco Medeiros, reconstituting the lives of these people and of that historical period from Anne’s diary, a young girl full of life and extremely observant. As we enter the room, we notice the play’s scenography and staging. It all reminds us of the confined shelter. As we are seated, at our eye level, we have the tripartite attic area, where people live in hiding. From that moment on, we also exist alongside them, enduring the weariness of the days. On the ground floor, where we see a closed door leading to the offices, is the wooden staircase leading to the attic. On this staircase, Otto Frank (João Reis) explains, for the first time to his daughter Anne, their forced isolation plan and tells her “It doesn’t matter. You can’t go through that door, ever.” He refers to the door leading to the forbidden, open-air space of the street, where Nazi troops could appear at any moment, through carelessness or denunciation. Above the attic, on the wall, there is a giant screen, where images from different angles of the shelter pass, which we cannot access from the stage; and also images from Anne Frank’s diary, where we see her handwriting and some photographs. This access creates a sense of intimacy with something that was previously distant. There is a temporal crossover in this scenic structure, and it subtly confronts us with the mental wedge system that we use as a mind-saving mechanism. Do we see thing at the spectator’s distance, or do we live the emotional side of a reality that haunts and frightens us? We don’t really know where we can stand. We are at the intermediate point between what we have seen through history and what we are confronted with now. The brutality of an incomprehensible experience for us, but one which we are progressively entering throughout this play. The excellent performances by all the actors contribute to this. During the whole narrative, Beatriz Frazão (Anne Frank) maintains an impressive sobriety in her interpretation, hard to beat. A teenager living constantly under stress but with a dreamy, lively and energetic personality, with all the characteristics that we think are typical of her age, also showing inner changes and the maturity of that stage of life. Marco Medeiros’ staging is intelligent. The characters’ constant cross-dialogues in the different rooms of the shelter reflect a claustrophobic proximity, as well as the ongoing quarrels brought about by the bargaining of different daily needs. All these staging choices have the exact proportion between the spectator’s point of saturation and the point of perception of what the enclosed life might have been like, in a period of mass persecution. Marco Medeiros manages to stay firmly on the razor’s edge, without the slightest imbalance or hint of falling into clichés. A difficult task, if we consider this play’s historical importance.
The Diary of Anne Frank will be on stage until November 13.
Version: Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Translation: Ana Sampaio
Directed by Marco Medeiros
With Anabela Moreira, Beatriz Frazão, Carla Chambel, Catarina Couto Sousa, Diogo Mesquita, João Bettencourt, João Reis, Paulo Pinto, Rita Tristão da Silva e Romeu Vala
Set design: F. Ribeiro
Costumes: Maria Gonzaga
Music and light design: Marco Medeiros
Production: Teatro da Trindade INATEL