The East Texas Performing Arts theater troupe debuts in Marshall next month, planning to perform the play Anne Frank at Marshall’s Memorial City Hall July 1-3.
The troupe performed the piece previously in Jefferson, according to the organization’s director and founder Sara Whitaker, and plan to bring the same energy and power of their previous performance to their Marshall audience.
The play will run July 1 at 7:30 p.m., July 2 at 2 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m., and July 3 at 2 p.m. All tickets are available at www.opnsco.com/tickets.
On Sunday, July 3, all students from kindergarten through college age can attend the play at Memorial City Hall for free.
Whitaker said the cast of Marshall’s planned performances is largely made up of the play’s original cast, which was performed at Jefferson.
“We had a wonderful cast last time around, and they really had amazing chemistry that I think really made this play something special,” Whitaker said.
Atticus Upton Lewis, 16, plays the title character Peter Van Dann with 15-year-old actor Emma Pierce playing Anne Frank.
The two have known each other since kindergarten and have performed together before, including at the previous performance of Our Town by East Texas Performing Arts.
“They really have great chemistry together, and I think they’re both the right age and already have that friendship as Anne and Peter really elevate the characters,” Whitaker said.
Pierce said that through her performance as Anne Frank, she tried to encapsulate both the lighthearted elements of a teenage girl, while conveying the serious nature of the play with the respect it deserves.
“It’s really difficult, because on the one hand she’s a 13-year-old girl, so she’s sometimes happy and silly, it’s important for me to represent that in a way that allows her to keep her dignity, and gives the piece the respect it deserves,” Pierce said.
Upton Lewis said he also strives to find balance in his performance as Peter Van Dann, struggling to understand the feelings of turmoil and chaos that surround the two families as they try to come together. come out of it day by day.
“There’s a lot of pressure to portray these roles well,” Upton Lewis said, “These are real people and they’ve been through a horrible time and we all want to do them justice.”
Karl Frederickson is also a performer with the company, taking on the role of Otto Frank in the production.
He said the play is a story of choices, choices between turning to good or turning to evil, when the worst of humanity stirs around you.
Whitaker said that in preparation for the role, the entire cast visited the Dallas Holocaust Museum, to be sure they had knowledge of the history of the incidents they portray fresh in their spirit as they prepare for the roles.
“We certainly weren’t going to go into this blind and ignorant of the true story of what happened and the people who were affected by this genocide,” Whitaker said.
Anne Frank is based on the book “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank, a first-person account of a Jewish family during the events of the Holocaust.
The play follows Frank for almost two years as she is joined by her family and the Van Daan family to hide in a secret side space above an office in Amsterdam as the Nazis search for and deport citizens Jews to their death.
Frederickson said this piece is just as relevant today as it was when it was originally written; pointing out that history repeats itself when we refuse to learn from it.
“It’s an important story that’s a mix between the story of Anne as an adult, as well as simultaneously, the world’s journey into madness,” Frederickson said, “It’s a story full of choices , and the audience has a choice too.We can choose to identify with Anne and her family, or we can choose to identify with a world that is going crazy.
Whitaker echoed his sentiments, stating that anyone of any age is capable of watching this piece and learning something from the experience.
Fredrickson also said there’s a very interesting juxtaposition in the play between the happiness of a loving family spending time together for two years and the horrific events unfolding in the outside world all around them.
“I think it’s about enjoying life and not taking it for granted.” said Whitaker.