BJU to present The Diary of Anne Frank

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BJU to present The Diary of Anne Frank

photos of the Diary of Anne Frank rehersal in performance hall, BJU, Greenville, SC, April 15, 2021. (Robert Stuber)

The historical play The Diary of Anne Frank allows viewers to travel to the 1940s and experience one of the many tragic stories of the Holocaust. The show will be presented nightly from April 27 through May 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Performance Hall.

The Diary of Anne Frank is a stage adaptation of the published book The Diary of Anne Frank. The book highlights the true experience of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who was in hiding with her family for two years during the Holocaust. The play not only centers on the perspective of the main character, Anne Frank, but also delivers insight into the other characters presented in the publication.

Kayley Baker, a senior theatre major who plays the role of Mrs. Edith Frank, Anne Frank’s mother, said it has been interesting and difficult to portray her character. Baker is completing this play for her senior capstone. “For the most part, we only hear Anne’s story,” Baker said. “So, it’s been really cool to research and find out who [Mrs. Frank] was.”

Anne Frank, played by freshman Erika McGonigal, talks with her
father Mr. Frank, played by former faculty member David Schwingle.

As noted in The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne, played in the adaptation by freshman Erika McGonigal, doesn’t have a good relationship with her mother. “Having to play this really loving character who has this really tense relationship with her daughter was really difficult at first,” Baker said. “It’s really interesting to see beyond what Anne sees and realize there is a lot of depth to all of the characters.”

Baker said she relates to Mrs. Frank because when there is something that needs to get done, she strives to get it done. “There’s a lot of people around her who don’t like that, and that makes her very tense,” Baker said. “She holds her tongue a lot and [makes] a lot of sacrifices that people didn’t see.”

“If I could ask Mrs. Frank any questions, I’d ask her how she held on for so long,” Baker said. “Overall, watching the relationships play out among the people Anne Frank wrote about has been one of my favorite things about the play.”

Hannah Allen, a freshman theatre major who plays the role of Miep Gies, said her character works diligently to protect the family. “She isn’t in the attic itself,” Allen said. “She’s one of the people who takes care of the Frank family. She brings them food, pictures and books to remind them of the outside world they’re missing.” Gies kept Anne’s writings in her desk after their arrest.

The cast for The Diary of Anne Frank have met on Saturday every week to build the period-appropriate set themselves. Photo: Robert Stuber

Allen said Gies’ personality is very different from that of her own. “I’m a very outgoing and loud person, while Miep is very shy and humble,” Allen said. Allen said although taking on the role of her opposite personality is a big challenge, it has been good for practice.

Allen said as she has studied Gies, she has realized that Gies put a lot on the line for the Frank family. “If I could meet Miep Gies, I would thank her for what she did for the Frank family,” said Allen. “I’d ask her a lot of questions about how they lived.”

Allen said viewers should pay special attention to Mr. Frank’s reactions to everything, a character played by former theatre department faculty member David Schwingle. “Mr. Frank is very complex and by understanding and watching his character carefully, you’ll be able to see his character change drastically from the beginning to the end,” Allen said.

Allen said one of her favorite aspects of the play is the set that she and the other actors have built. “We meet every Saturday to work on the set,” Allen said. “I think the set is really important because it’s what brings the audience into the time period,” Allen said the set has somewhat of a rustic feel to it when the actors first walk in. “As soon as the characters start moving into the set, it really starts to come to life,” Allen said.

Allen said to also be on the lookout for a live cat on the stage, portraying Anne Frank’s cat, Mouschi.