Senior projects have a fresh interpretation of Diary of Anne Frank


The cast of Diary of Anne Frank laugh after doing a warm up exercise which entails sitting and a circle and counting one by one. In order to be successful, no two people can say the same number, and the cast must listen to each other.

Noura Abukhadra, Staff Writer

This year there are two key senior projects in the theater department, one of which will be a fresh interpretation on the well known book and play Diary of Anne Frank. Diary of Anne Frank is directed by Izzy Rousmaniere and Betty Mfalingundi, it has yet to premiere at South.

According to the actress playing Anne Frank, Maia Roberts, considering the play will be held in the black box on the 2nd floor at South, the audience will feel a lot closer than normal, almost as if they’re a part of the play. “Ours is gonna be a lot more intimate, I have seen one [Diary of Anne Frank] at the park square and it’s on a main stage, kind of far away. [For] ours, the audience is right there, they are in the annex with us,” Roberts emphasized.

Coincidentally, Ellen Fenster director of the theater program at South directed her own interpretation of Diary of a Young Girl at park square theater, and is now very supportive the students involved in the play now at South.

Izzy Rousmaniere, one of the directors, has expanded the story to highlight that these families are not the only ones to experience genocide, and that the same story could be placed in countless other time periods and countries. “I want to interpret it in a more universal sense, a lot of the time this is considered ‘the Holocaust play,’ and I think that’s an important aspect of it, it’s a story that really happened and it’s about people who really existed in this time period,” commented Rousmaniere.

“ I also want the play to recognize that these families in this city in this era of history are not the only people to experience genocide and oppression. Anne and her family happen to live in Amsterdam during the Holocaust, but the same story could be placed in 1994 Rwanda, or in Darfur, Cambodia, or in Bosnia or really anywhere that there has been genocide or oppression.” she recognized.

Sophomore Viola Onikoro-Arkell plays Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister. She emphasizes that the story is so much more than oppression, which is something the cast does an excellent job at showing. “We talk a lot about what the story is actually about, its a story of oppression, but it’s also a story of hope, relationships, friendship, family  and growing up,” shared Onikoro-Arkell.

Robert feels as though most people view the story as a teenage girl who isn’t very smart, but there is so much more. “My interpretation of the character is she is a lot deeper and smarter than you think, she is seen as this teenage girl who isn’t very smart, but she really had potential and a lot of ideas that were not normal for teenage girls to have at that time because of the unique situation she was in,”she said.

Onikoro-Arkell states that if there is one thing they still need to go through and work on, its the relationships, and how they are shaped by living in the same space for an extended period of time. “Once it’s all blocked, we have to go through and talk a lot about relationships, cause it’s eight people who are living in close quarters for [almost] three years under dire circumstances and that obviously creates some very unique relationships,” she explains.

Onikoro-Arkell concludes by adding  “ I am really excited to delve into how we each interpret [the unique relationships] on our own and how we can put it all together.”  

Rousmaniere emphasizes that beyond having a unique show of The Diary of Anne Frank,she explains that she hopes the show “makes [the audience] consider the impact of oppression and genocide,” besides that she adds “[I] hope that they see parts of themselves and can apply the story to the world today,” she concluded. The Diary of Anne Frank premieres at the sky box theater on the 2nd floor at South on Tuesday, May 17th.