This was my first time attending a production at the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, but I have to say that their performance of And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank was by far one of the best plays I’ve had the privilege of seeing anywhere. Set against the backdrop of Europe during World War II, James Still’s play weaves a picture of several Jewish families struggling to survive with real life video interviews playing on screens above the stage of Holocaust survivors Eva Geiringer and Ed Silverberg.
(Pictured: Weston LeCrone, Elizabeth Hutson, Zoe Turner, Joesph Mervis, Jennifer Johansen, and Mark Goetzinger)
Though Anne Frank’s name is in the title of the production, I wouldn’t say she is the main character in this story. Instead, she provides a common thread between Eva and the Geringer family, Ed and his parents and the Hitler youth, making it possible to better understand her and the Holocaust through the eyes of others.
(Pictured: Zoe Turner and Elizabeth Hutson)
(Pictured: Mark Goetzinger, Elizabeth Hutson, Jennifer Johansen, Weston LeCrone)
Director Courtney Sale did a marvelous job blocking out the movements of the actors to effectively portray each scene and change of location and time. Though what was happening shifted frequently and quickly, it was easy to follow the four characters and empathize with them.
(Pictured: Joseph Mervis)
The minimalistic set design was imagined and built by Rowan Doyle. Taking inspiration from Ai Weiwei’s sculptures, historical photographs, Holocaust memorials, and children’s drawings, it was an image of a Jewish family crossing a broken train bridge that became the set for this production. The linear perspective and rusting iron of the tracks mixed with the sharp edges of the hanging barbed wire and ominous lighting created a since of danger and fear that paralleled nicely with the uncertainty for the families.
(Pictured: Weston LeCrone)
The whole production came together perfectly, but what really blew me away was the acting. Especially the four younger characters amazed me with their spot on portrayals and believability.
After each performance the cast invites the audience to stick around for a discussion and ask any question they might have. All four students discussed the challenge of balancing high school and their performance schedule and how they hope to pursue acting in the future. The cast definitely did their research of the time period and their characters and they even had the opportunity to talk with James Still before they started rehearsals about his interviews with the real Eva and Ed. I truly can’t say enough about this cast and production, so if you have time, please go and experience this magnificent piece of history and art.
(Pictured Jennifer Johansen and Elizabeth Hutson)
This is the IRT’s third production of And Then They Came for Me, having previously produced it in 1996 and 2005. It is now part of a local tradition where patrons and Indiana students get to witness a part of history and keep the story alive. No matter how many Holocaust stories you have heard and how far the scope of And Then They Came For Me reaches, it is important to not grow complacent as time continues on. As the remaining survivors of the Holocaust begin to dwindle, it is important to keep their memory alive by sharing their narratives with future generations and ensuring that history does not repeat itself.
What: And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, 90 minutes
When: January 17 – February 15
Where: Indiana Repertory Theatre, Upper Stage
Visit http://www.irtlive.com/ or call (317) 635-5252 for ticket information