Three Questions Generated by Playing a Gestapo Officer In “The Diary of Anne Frank”

1) I wonder what would have become of Anne Frank’s diary had she survived the holocaust.

I’m thinking that Anne might have become known as a writer in her own corner of the world, but the diary might have languished in obscurity. it was her intent to have the diary published, but she was planning on submitting it to a project that was collecting War Diaries. From there it would have been lumped in with dozens or hundreds of others, and may not have ever resurfaced to see the light of day. With Anne still living, Otto Frank may not have been driven to get the book published, and it may have been decades before some version of the diary was made public.

Perhaps the Diary was the most important thing she would ever write, and her death paved the road for it to become the document that we know today. Would the Diary mean as much to us if Anne had survived? I have my doubts. Life is full of ironic things like this. It doesn’t seem right, but that’s the way things operate.

2) When does a standing ovation mean something?

I’ve been in my share of theater productions where the performance was given a standing ovation. Most were musicals, which have a greater likelihood of generating a Standing O just by their very nature of spectacle.

Those didn’t mean a whole lot to me outside of, “Oh, that’s nice.”

But opening night during our very unique curtain call – we don’t all appear from the wings – rather, the lights come up and we’re all standing there like ghosts, staring blankly into the audience – there was nothing. The audience stared back. Then, slowly, applause started, and grew, and then people were standing up. Even though I was onstage for probably less than a minute, shouting in German and pushing characters out the door, a lump formed in my throat and I hoped I wouldn’t start crying before I got off stage (the next night, the two girls who played the Frank sisters and my daughter, who plays Miep, all got offstage and burst into tears).

There has only been one other standing ovation that means as much to me as that one opening night. In fact, I think it means a bit more. Years ago I was in The Boys Next Door, a play about four mentally handicapped men sharing an apartment, playing the doughnut loving Norman Bulansky, who gets a girlfriend, the equally incapacitated Shiela. One night a standing ovation started in once particular section of the theater and spread from there. It turned out that the group that started the ovation were all parents of mentally handicapped children. That told me that we had gotten the show right, and is one of the many reasons why that particular show is the best one I’ve ever been in, and was one of my best performances.

3) Why do I do this everytime I’m in a play?

Of familiarity to regular readers – every time I’m in a show, I start talking about writing that Christmas Play, and then submitting it to the board to see about producing it as a future Christmas production. Well, the bug started to hit me even though I was on a really short rehearsal schedule (how long does one need to learn four or five German words?).

This, time, however, I did something about it. I took my iBook to the theater with me, and in the long stretch of time between when I get to the theater (I go in with my daughter to save on gas), I opened up the moldy old file and started working on it.

So I’m writing again.

I’m not sure how long it’ll take to get this written. It won’t be a long haul like a novel. I’d like to have it done by the end of the year for a couple of reasons. First, doing this means that I will be writing the play during the Christmas season, which can only help things (my brother has a story he’s been working on for years – but he only works on it on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day because the mood has to be just right). Getting some kind of draft done by year’s end means I can get it to the theater board, hopefully in time for them to consider for the 2006/2007 season. I suspect that they’d want it done as a director’s special, which means someone would have to sit in the director’s chair… and that person would probably be me.

So I’m pleased to bring the return of the progress chart to the Foundry White Moments. I’m not going to go into word counts here, because writing a play is totally different from a novel. But I will keep a page count posted just to show that some kind of progress is being made. And so I can use all of you out there as another excuse to see the project through.

Okay, let’s go…

JCF’s Christmas Play
Previously Existing Pages: 1*
Pages, 10/7/05: 4
Pages, 10/8/05: 5
Current Total: 10

Listening: Something by Pat Metheny on the iPod Shuffle

*there were actually four pages done, but that draft seems to have disappeared from my hard drive.


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