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The Diary of Anne Frank

Adapted by Wendy Kesselman
from the original stage play by Goodrich and Hackett

Time passes and we see the
A SYNOPSIS OF THE PLAY families celebrate Hanukkah. Anne has
gone to much trouble to make special
Wendy Kesselman has adapted The presents for everyone in the annex, but
Diary of Anne Frank to include passages their celebration is interrupted by sounds
from Anne’s diary that were published after from the offices below. Mr. Frank risks
the original play was written, as well as Parent/Teacher making a trip downstairs and concludes
other survivor accounts. The play opens
Study Guide that a thief has been in the offices. The
with an image of the Frank family as they by Gwethalyn Williams possibility of the thief reporting what he
go into hiding entering the Secret heard from the annex leaves the
Annex through a door hidden behind occupants in fear.
a bookshelf. We see them begin At the beginning of Act Two a
to set up house and Mr. and Mrs. year has passed, food has become
van Daan and their son Peter arrive scarce, and it is clear everyone is
soon after. Mr. Frank along with suffering. Miep brings a holiday
the refugee families’ two helpers, cake to celebrate the new year,
Miep and Mr. Kraler, who work in but the happy event is spoiled
the offices below, explain the “rules” when Mr. van Daan forces his wife
for living in the annex stressing the to give up her precious fur coat
importance of being quiet, moving for the money it will bring. Anne
around as little as possible during and Peter begin to have long
the day, and not using the toilet until conversations and confide in each
all the workers below have left for other. Anne writes in her diary that
the day. Miep explains how she will she is beginning to feel sensual
bring the families food, books and urges and can feel her body
other supplies when she visits. changing into that of a woman.
As the families begin to settle into a routine, Mr. Kraler brings the distressing news
Anne writes in her diary about taking lessons from that one of the employees downstairs has hinted
her father, the arguments between the van Daans, that he remembers the existence of a door to an
teasing Peter, and being upset by her mother’s attic level and demands more pay. Mr. Frank
urging her to behave in a more adult manner. encourages Mr. Kraler to give him a raise in the
Miep and Mr. Kraler come bearing supplies and hopes of keeping him from talking. As tensions run
news of the outside world. They also tell the even higher in the annex, Mrs. Frank catches Mr.
families of Mr. Dussel, a friend who is in need of a van Daan stealing bread in the night and demands
place to hide, and make plans for him to join them he leave the annex. Mr. Frank persuades her to
in the annex. let him stay. The families rejoice as they listen to
Mr. Dussel arrives safely, but with more the BBC newscast announcing the Allied invasion
truthful news of the situation “outside” than the and their hopes are high for an end to the war. As
families had received from Miep and Mr. Kraler. the families share a happy moment enjoying fresh
The families are terrified by how bad things have strawberries we see Schutzstaffel (SS) officers
gotten and worry about friends not in hiding. They enter the office building below the annex and find
listen to BBC newscasts and hope for a British the door behind the bookshelf. The families are
invasion. Anne begins to wake screaming in the arrested and we hear of their fates in a voice over
night from nightmares. from Mr. Frank.
About this Production: Discussion Questions:
The Seem-To-Be Players are the resident What was Anne’s initial reaction to the family’s
children’s theater company of the Lawrence Arts arrival at the secret annex? How was it different
Center. The Players are a professional troupe from Margot and her mother’s reaction? How
of actors, playwrights, directors, teachers and did Anne’s outlook on living in the annex change
musicians who seek to expand the imagination, during the course of the play? What do you think
encourage creative thinking and promote an brought about those changes?
appreciation of human values through innovative
productions and drama education for children, For what reasons do you think Anne kept a diary
educators and families. while she was in hiding? How do you think her
Ric Averill has been the Artistic Director diary helped Anne through this difficult time?
and principal playwright, composer and director
for the Seem-To-Be Players since he and his How is what Anne writes about herself in her diary
wife, Jeanne, founded the company in 1973. The different from the way she acts around the other
company has toured in more than 50 Kansas occupants of the annex? Why do you think Anne
communities and 35 states, entertaining and hides some of her true feelings from the others?
educating more than 200,000 students per year. Can you think of a time when you have had to
The Seem-To-Be Players production of keep the way you were feeling to yourself ? How
The Diary of Anne Frank is funded in part by did it make you feel?
a grant from the National Endowment for the
Arts. The NEA funding will assist the company What visual image do you remember most from
in developing the original cello music, written by the play? Why do you think that image was so
Ric Averill, that will accompany the production. powerful? How did it make you feel?
The NEA grant also helps to fund guest
director, Moses Goldberg. Recently retired after
twenty-five years as Producing Director of Stage Vocabulary
One: The Louisville Children’s Theatre, Moses Some terms students may not be familiar with:
has also served as Artistic Director of the Asolo SS: Short for schutzstaffel (protective squadron),
Touring Theatre and PAF Youth Theatre Center The SS was a highly trained elite paramilitary
(Huntington, Long Island), and has directed organization that worked in conjunction with
professionally at theatres from Washington to the Nazi military forces. They ran the labor
Florida. and death camps.
Active in the International Association of Westerbork transit camp: A transit camp for
Theatre for Children and Young People, Goldberg Dutch Jews in Holland.
has attended meetings of the Association all From Westerbork,
over the world and directed the world premiere prisoners were
of Gennadi Mamlin’s On The Edge at Moscow’s transported to the death
famed Taganka Theatre. camps in Poland.
As a playwright, over twenty-five of his Call up: A government
plays have been produced professionally, and ten order to report to the
of them have been published, including Aladdin, military, usually to be
The Outlaw Robin Hood, The Men’s Cottage sent to a labor camp.
and The Wind In The Willows. In 1990, Goldberg Pim: Anne’s name for
received the Charlotte B. Chorpenning Cup for his her father.
outstanding contributions to dramatic literature; W.C.: Stands for Water
and his textbook, Children’s Theatre: A Philosophy Closet, a room with a
and a Method, has been used in many of the toilet.
nation’s colleges and universities. In July of 2005, Beethoven-straat: A
Moses received the Children’s Theatre Association street in Amsterdam
of America’s prestigious Medallion Award for where many Jews
lifetime achievement in the field of Children’s lived and were
Theatre arrested in one night. The Secret Annex
see the play while
The Vichy Regime: The French “puppet” studying WWII we
government that operated under Nazi have provided a
occupation. brief summary of
Guilders: Dutch currency. some of the historical
Westertoren: A church with a carillion bell tower background including
near the secret annex. the persecution of
Jews by the Nazi
party.
Why see the play? After World War
The Diary of Anne Frank is taught in most
I, the Allied victors
secondary curriculums in one form or another. If
signed a series of
your students have already studied or will study
peace treaties. The
the diary, talk with them about why it is useful
Treaty of Versailles
to experience the same story through different
demanded Germany Nazi Propaganda Poster
mediums.
take responsibility for
If you have students who have seen the
the First World War. Along with this admission
movie, read the diary or even read the play
of guilt, Germany also had to severely reduce
talk with them about how watching the story
its military power and pay heavy reparations for
on stage was different than reading the play or
loss of territory. During World War I the German
seeing the movie. What is it about a live theater
government waged an extremely successful
experience of the story that makes it different
propaganda campaign which led the public to
from other forms in which you may have been
believe they were winning the war. Because of
exposed to The Diary of Anne Frank
Frank? Were the
this, the German people were confused by the
emotions triggered by the play the same as ones
harsh terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty.
experienced while watching the movie or reading
This gave rise to a theory that Germany
the diary itself? Did different events or ideas stand
had really won the war on the battlefield, but that
out in the different versions of the story? Try to
traitors within the country must have betrayed the
discuss the differences in terms of the medium of
Germans causing them to lose the war. Military
communication rather than just what may have
leaders in Germany, including Hitler, promoted this
been left out in different versions. If students have
idea and pointed the finger at the new democratic
trouble identifying differences aside from plot ask
Wiemar Republic government, Social Democrats,
them why they think something may have been
communists, and especially Jews as the traitors
added or left out in the different versions. Talk
who had lost Germany the War.
with your students about the separate strengths of
The stock market crash of 1929 and
each medium.
ensuing poor living conditions, along with
continued outrage at the Treaty of Versailles led
to a highly nationalistic atmosphere in Germany in
Historical Context which the radical ideas of fascist parties seemed
It is important when exposing students to The
appealing to many of the Germans. The German
Diary of Anne Frank that it be placed in proper
public elected Adolf Hitler and his Nationalist
historical context. Anne’s awareness of the
Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) to
gassing of Jews in Poland and fear for Jews not
power in 1933. Over the next few years, the
lucky enough to be in hiding is clear in the play,
NSDAP passed laws which slowly eroded the
but the reasons her situation is so desperate is
rights of Jews and began propaganda campaigns
not explicitly explained. This is due, in part, to the
promoting the idea that Jews were a threat to the
Frank parents attempt to shield their children from
good of the country. In 1942, a Nazi conference
the persecution around them before they went
settled on the “Final Solution” to the “Jewish
into hiding. As a personal account, Anne’s diary
Problem” and began a carefully strategic program
does not explain things she took for granted and
to eliminate all Jews and other groups they
the occupants only had BBC radio broadcasts
considered “unworthy of life.”
and reports from Miep and Mr. Kraler to inform
The Frank family fled to the Netherlands as
them of outside events. If your students cannot
the oppression in Germany got worse, but if they are comfortable doing so) and
Hitler’s campaign to gain more territory led how it felt to keep the journal. Did they
his troops to the Netherlands in 1940. The struggle to find things to write about? Did
Nazi occupation of The Netherlands led they feel it was a place they could express
to the erosion of rights and extermination ideas they might not be able to work out in
of Dutch Jews just as in Germany. When conversation?
Margot Frank got a “call up” to report to Anne’s journal has much to tell us
a work camp, the Frank family went into about the historical era in which she lived,
hiding. but more importantly it is a very personal
account of her coming of age. Anne uses
the diary to work out questions she has
The Power of Writing: about her personal identity. How does
For Anne, her diary was a way for Memorial in Amsterdam Anne define herself in the diary or the
her to pass the long hours of necessary play? Make a list of some of the identities
silence, a way to escape, and a much needed we see Anne struggle with including her identity
friend and confidant when she had none because as a daughter and her religious identity as a
of her imprisonment, but for those who survive her Jew. How did Anne use her diary to work out her
there is much to be learned from Anne’s account personal struggles? How did you see these issues
of life in the secret annex. manifest themselves in her behavior?
Have your students keep a journal for at In the play we hear a radio broadcast in
least a week then have them go back and examine which the exiled Princess of the Netherlands
it as though they were examining an historical appeals to the people about the importance of
document. How much can they learn form their everyday writings from people who are being
journal entries about current affairs and what the oppressed. Anne began revising her diary after
culture they live in is like? Have them imagine that hearing the broadcast. The Nazi’s Final Solution
they are trying to form an idea of what it was like aimed not only to eliminate all Jews, but to
to be a young person in their situation and time. eliminate all traces that they ever existed including
What ideas might an historian get that would be all records of the Solution itself. Anne’s writing
right from their journal entries? Might an historian in her diary, with the idea others might some day
get the wrong idea about some things? read it, was an act in direct opposition to the Nazi
Discuss what kind of things they wrote regime. Just by continuing to write, Anne Frank
about (and even what specific things they wrote fought the Nazis.
MORE RESOURCES:

The Anne Frank Internet Guide: www.annefrank.com. The Nizkor Project: www.nizkor.org

The Holocaust Chronical: www.holocaustchronicle.org On propaganda: www.propagandacritic.com

Ann Frankʼs Tales from The Secret Annex by Anne Frank tr. by Michael Mok and Ralph Manheim, Doubleday, 1983.

The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer, tr. by Alison Meersschaert, Pantheon, 1999.

Anne Frank: A Hidden Life by Mirjam Pressler, Puffin, 2000.

Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust Ed. by: Marianne Hirsch and Irene Kacandes, Modern language
Association of America, 2004.

A Scholarly Look at The Diary of Anne Frank Ed. by Harold Bloom, Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.

Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Childhood Friend by Alison Gold, Schoastic, 1999.

This Program is presented in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

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