Hope in a hopeless situation: Actors Bridge and Belmont theater team up for ‘The Diary of Anne

The historical story of a hopeful girl in a hopeless situation is lighting up the stage of the Blackbox Theater.

Actors’ Bridge has partnered with Belmont’s theater department to produce “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which debuts tonight. The show hopes to bring the audience back in time to show the survival of Anne Frank and her family during World War II.

“The play is about the entire time spent in the Annex until the families were found out,” said Madeline Marconi, the Belmont student portraying Anne Frank in the production. “It’s just focusing on the relationships and events when eight people are living in this tiny space for two and a half years.”

The production behind such an iconic life left a lot for the actors to discover about the famous roles and the harsh tolls taken on a normal family whose life got flipped upside down.

“We had to do our research into the actual person we played because it is history,” said Grace Mason, who plays Miep Gies.

Marconi did the same, but wanted to get the full historical background to understand the dynamics of the situation Anne was faced with.

“I took into account how many meals I was eating a day and tried to have smaller meals. I tried putting things into perspective.”

With all of the horrific events that defined the Holocaust and World War II, the cast also had to hone in on the emotional moments these characters had to face on the daily basis.

“The subject matter was such a tragic time and it’s difficult to think about that time in history,” said Ara Vito, who is portraying the role of Margot Frank, Anne’s sister.

Mason agreed that she was emotionally connected to her character as well.

“I feel like I had to hold back emotions,” she said. “It’s all so powerful, sinking into the actual person this actually happened to.”

Because the play is completely based on the story told through the eyes of Anne Frank, Marconi got as close as she could to the reality of the situation as she could imagine.

“Feeling the fear they felt was enough to cause stress on me. There is such intense screaming and crying.”

She even felt like she could relate to Anne, from their similar optimistic views and their sense of creativity, giving a deeper tie to the girl whose story still lives on today.

“I try to be as truthful as I can when I haven’t experienced anything close to the Holocaust,” said Marconi. “Everything they had was ripped away and they were literally fighting life or death so I had to use imagination when I haven’t experienced it ever.”

The significance of the production is more than just telling the tale of the Frank family in the Annex, but also giving the audience a taste of the diary of a teenage girl who lived during an atrocious period in time.

“This production speaks to humanity,” said Mason. “I can’t even put it into words, but I think it will bring hopefulness and want for life.”

Marconi agrees, wanting the diary to resonate and give people hope.

“This play is not a downer; it’s not just a Holocaust play. It’s about Anne as an artist and how she is growing up. This is her story – about love, family, everything.”

The run of Belmont’s take of “The Diary of Anne Frank” will run Nov. 15-Nov. 23 in the Troutt Blackbox Theater. Performances begin Friday and continue throughout the week until the following Saturday.

General admission is $18 and faculty, staff, senior citizens and alumni tickets can purchase tickets for $12. Belmont students are admitted for free but convo is only available for select showings.

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