Senior Sports Reporter
Everyone has heard the story of Anne Frank: A young Jewish girl in hiding with her family for two years in the attic of a friend’s house during the Holocaust. She kept a diary for the entirety of her stay in that attic, writing about the day-to-day experiences.
However, not many people have heard the story of Otto Frank, her father.
He had been the one who had gifted Anne her diary for her thirteenth birthday.
Otto Frank was also the lone survivor of the Frank family after the Holocaust ended.
On October 17 in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center, his story was told.
Roger Guenveur Smith and Marc Anthony Thompson, in collaboration with the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Keene State College Sidore Lecture Series, birthed the one-man performance by the simple name of “Otto Frank.”
In this performance, Smith, the lone performer, sat at a table with nothing but a microphone in front of his face and a dull spotlight shining down on him.
Smith, playing the role of Otto Frank, spoke about his memories before the Holocaust when his family was all still alive and how he felt now as the only remaining Frank. He discussed the hatred he sees in the world to this day. He spoke about the loss he felt without his family, the pain he still suffers when thinking about it.
However, some of the most powerful moments in the performance where when there was nothing being said at all.
“We come to the theatre hopefully to have our emotions challenged,” said Smith during the post-show talk back. “We do that with sound… [and] words… but in large measure we do it with silence and this piece is very much driven by silence… the silence of loss, the silence of absence, the silence of collusion.”
Alongside Smith speaking, throughout the performance there was occasional music added in. The performance began with an ice-cream truck rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to represent the fateful day that Otto gave his daughter, Anne, her diary as a birthday present.
The performance was sound directed by Marc Anthony Thompson, who has worked with Smith for 25 years.
“For this particular play, I just thought really staying out of the way of the beauty of the language and not trying to really underscore it,” Thompson explained when asked about the musical choices he made in the performance.
The performance, though only being just under an hour, managed to capture the audience’s attention through their heart strings.
“I had never seen a show like that before,” said Millie Richard, a sophomore at Keene State. “[My favorite part] was probably the end, it was a very emotional ending so it kind of just left me hanging there.”
The performance ended with Smith crying out his daughter Anne’s name while the dull spotlight faded to black.
Smith received a standing ovation from the audience once he returned to the stage for final bows.
Claire Boughton can be
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