Friday, August 12, 2016

Anne Frank House

Executive summary by darmansjah

On 8 May the theatre production ANNE had its premiere at Theatre Amsterdam. The Anne Frank Fonds in Basel, the owner of the copyright on the diary of Anne Frank, commissioned the play. The Anne Frank House is not involved in the production, but we have been receiving questions about it.

The Anne Frank Fonds in Basel, the owner of the copyright on Anne’s diaries, commissioned the play. The Fonds approached the married couple Leon de Winter and Jessica Durlacher to write a new play.

The play is being produced by the Imagine Nation production company of Kees Abrahams and Robin de Levita. The director is Theu Boermans, the artistic director of the Dutch National Theatre in The Hague.
No, the Anne Frank House is not involved in the play ANNE. The initiative for the play came from the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel.

We were interested to see Leon de Winter and Jessica Durlacher’s vision of the life story of Anne Frank, especially in comparison with the first stage adaptation from 1955 by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, with which Otto Frank was closely involved. The 1955 play begins with the day of going into hiding, and ends with the day of the arrest. The play was a great success, but it was also criticised for the alleged ‘de-Judaisation’ of the story and the over-optimistic ending, with its last lines being the often-quoted words from the diary “It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

The new play by De Winter and Durlacher begins just before the family went into hiding, with Anne’s thirteenth birthday on the Merwedeplein square, and ends with her death in Bergen-Belsen. This more fully reflects Anne’s life story. We also see the Jewish character of the narrative more clearly expressed in the new play.

The writers have chosen to give Peter Schiff (Anne’s first love, not to be confused with Peter van Pels) a major role in the play. We are interested in the motives for this choice. It is also notable that only Miep Gies and her husband Jan are shown as helpers. The other helpers – Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler and Bep Voskuijl – do not feature in the play. Given their vital role during the period in hiding, we find this disappointing.

We have some difficulty with the commercial setting surrounding the play. It is being presented as a convivial evening out, with drinks, dinner packages and hostesses. In our view this is not appropriate to the history of Anne Frank.
The Anne Frank House is a non-profit museum and educational organisation. We do not receive any government subsidies for the Anne Frank House museum, which is an important world heritage site. The organisation’s incomes are devoted to the maintenance and opening to the public of the Anne Frank House, and the development of educational programmes and products. Our annual accounts can be inspected on our website.

When the copyright on the diaries of Anne Frank expires, anyone can in principle make free use of the source texts by Anne Frank. New plays and new interpretations will therefore almost certainly appear after 2015. The Anne Frank House sees it as a positive development that others will also be able to give their interpretations of the story without being bound to the permission of one organisation. We also realise that the risk of commercialised use of the work of Anne Frank will increase after 2015.

The Anne Frank House sees it as its ongoing task, in the museum and in all of its activities, to constantly focus on an authentic and historically reliable presentation of the life and work of Anne Frank, and of the history of which her life story forms a part.

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