In the fall of 2007 I was hired by Collingwood School to do their production of The Diary of Anne Frank. It was an extremely challenging production for a highschool, especially because the directors, Mike Wener and Michael Schaldemose, decided to keep the actors onstage for the entire performance. They changed their costumes on stage, and had to keep themselves realistically occupied throughout, without drawing focus from the action. The students did a phenomenal job. There was also two casts; one grades 8-10 and one grades 11 and 12. The photos below are from the senior cast.
At the start of the play, the families arrive wearing several layers of clothing, to keep from being seen in the streets with their luggage. All their outer garments had a Jood star on them, which I recreated from images I could find from the period, such as the one on the right. The stars were ironed on before each show, and the actors ripped them off during the first scene. It was a little hard on the costumes, but better that than having the actors have to pick out stitches.
Michael Schaldemose built the incredible two-storied set that the actors were on for the entire show. It included a kitchen, common area and two bedrooms on the ground floor, as well as two bedrooms upstairs, all of which could be seen by the audience at all times. The only chance the actors had to go off stage was when they used the bathroom, indicated by a door. When the action was elsewhere, they quietly went about normal activities without stealing focus. They didn't even leave the stage during Intermission. It gave the audience a real sense of the close quarters and lack of privacy these people endured.
Left to Right: Anne with her father, Otto, Anne with her Mother, Edith, and Anne with her sister, Margot.
Anne's costumes were based on the several photographs I could find of her. Her father, Otto Frank, was an amateur photographer, and left a few records of her. Little details like the women's stockings, which they wore in the first scene, soon disappeared as their confinement and the war made replacing such things impossible.
Left to Right: The Arrival of the VanDaans, Anne wearing Mrs.VanDaan's fur coat, Anne teases Peter.
The senior Mr.VanDaan was a challenge to costume, as he stands 6'5", which was extremely rare in the 1940's, but we managed.
Miep and Mr.Kraler, played by Rodger Wright, headmaster of Collingwood School, come and ask if they can add another to the group; Mr. Dussel, the dentist. No luck finding period dentist's jackets, so I had to make one. The red dress of Anne's is also from a photo portrait, taken by Otto Frank.
Some shots from the show. The group shot is from Act 2, and Anne is wearing a skirt that Margot wore during Act 1, indicating that some time has passed and she's grown into her older sister's hand-me-downs. She has quite grown-up shoes, too.
As winter progressed, they had to wear their winter coats to keep warm. I had a great time sourcing out period coats, and found some really beautiful pieces, including this faux fur coat of Mrs.VanDaan's.
Underwear and nightclothes were, of course, needed, for each character suitable to their age and sex. I'm sorry there aren't any shots of the underwear; I was very proud of the boys for wearing sock garters without complaint.
I had incredible luck with the Nazi uniforms. I tracked down a collector of WWII memorabilia, George Clark, who provided me with full uniforms for both my officer and my stormtrooper, including weapons (non-functional, but the stormtrooper's rifle made a great, loud cocking sound). Mr.Clark's attention to detail was incredible, providing me with the correct insignia for the uniforms, and making sure my officer wore a white cap, as the arrest took place in the summer.I thought the boy playing the officer looked like a Nazi recruiting poster, and his performance was absolutely chilling, in great party because it was almost completely silent.
The arrest scene was incredibly powerful and showed some real depth from these very young actors.
Otto Frank returns to collect Anne's diary, after the war ends, and to tell us of her death. This is, and will always be an incredibly powerful story, and I think the Collingwood students and staff really did it justice.
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