The Diary of Anne Frank opened at the Coastal Repertory Theatre from Sept. 14 – Oct. 6. It promised, and delivered, to be more than just a play and to have a lasting impact on our community as a new and exciting opportunity. Thanks to Martha and Michael Adler, the Anne Frank Center USA traveling museum exhibit accompanied this play, the first professional exhibit to be hosted by our theater.
Lene Whitley-Putz, the assistant producer, was a primary force behind all of this production. As a type of project manager, she ensured that all the working groups had what they need. Most of those groups were hard-working volunteers.
“If we sat down and started tracking the volunteer hours that went into this, it would be thousands of hours,” she said. That is one of the reasons this play was different from the many others Lene has worked on in her 11 ½ years volunteering with Coastal Rep. “Every volunteer has put in 110 percent,” she said.
In addition, this play is different because it resonated with the community. The play is one of the most produced and the book one of the most published. Anne Frank is famous. Furthermore, things like the Holocaust are still happening, if on a smaller scale. It’s important to remember this story over and over.
It also resonates with Lene. “When you’re working on a play, you fall in love with it. When it opens, it is a part of your life,” she said. “But this particular play matches what I do in my career as well, which is working with social justice and oppression. It resonates with me because it’s aligned with what I do. My husband is in the play, too. There is also a ton of energy, and that makes a difference.”
In mid-September, the eighth-graders at Cunha attended the Anne Frank play. The theater wants to educate everyone, and Lene had several ideas about what the eighth-graders should take away from their visit. “From a theatrical perspective, the beauty and magic of theater,” she said. “From a social justice perspective, we want them to learn to be participants in our world.”
How? “Think Globally, Act Locally” is a saying Lene supports. “There are so many non-profit organizations that can benefit from student volunteers. Make your local community strong and it seeps out from there,” Lene said.
And how did this opportunity come to Half Moon Bay? A lot of hard work is the answer. This play had been worked on since mid-August, with different groups of volunteers working constantly on the set, box office, and marketing. The set wasn’t finished completely till opening night, and it was taken down as soon as the closing performance was done, as the theater has only four weeks between plays.
As for the cast, the auditions were in early June. This play needed a lot of time for several reasons. First, the costumes had to be made bigger for the second act because of the little food in the Secret Annex. Second, even actors need summer vacation!
Vacation is much deserved, too. This play was difficult for the participants because they could never leave the stage! As the real Secret Annex members couldn’t go outside, neither could their counterparts. All costume changes and scenes, no matter who is in them, were done on the stage, never off.
The Diary of Anne Frank was an amazing production at the Coastal Repertory Theater. The Anne Frank Center USA museum exhibit added to the unique experience, creating lasting memories.