Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Talkback, Discussion Events on Tap During Westport's 'Anne Frank'

Speakers, panel discussions, talkbacks, workshops, films, family events and art exhibits will enhance Westport Country Playhouse's presentation of The Diary of Anne Frank.

The program, titled “Window onto History: Perspectives on The Diary of Anne Frank” is a partnership with 16 community organizations. The series runs through Oct. 30 to provide a wider context in which to access the life of Anne Frank, the Holocaust, genocide and issues of social justice. This initiative will feature scholars, artists, advocates for human rights, educators, documentarians and eyewitnesses as they shed light on a broad spectrum of fascinating subjects. Many events are free and open to the public.
"Window onto History" is an exciting and unprecedented venture for the Playhouse," said David Kennedy, associate artistic director. "For months we've been consulting experts, pulling together the best ideas, contacting the most interesting speakers, all to create this constellation of events surrounding the production of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’

The Diary of Anne Frank, helmed by award-winning director Gerald Freedman, will be staged at Westport Country Playhouse from September 28 through October 30, as part of its 80th Anniversary Season.

Partner organizations for the series are Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut, Anne Frank Center USA, Barnes & Noble of Westport, Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University, Connecticut Coalition to Save Darfur, Facing History and Ourselves, The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University, Holocaust Child Survivors of Connecticut, Neighborhood Studios of Bridgeport, PROOF: Media for Social Justice, UJA/Federation Westport Weston Wilton Norwalk, Voices of Rwanda, Westport Arts Center, Westport/Weston Chapter of Hadassah, Westport Public Library and Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.

“Author Talk with Francine Prose (left),” produced in collaboration with Westport Public Library, will be on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 3 pm in the Playhouse’s Jason Robards Theatre. Prose will discuss her book “Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife.” Making an impassioned argument for Anne Frank’s literary genius, Prose tells the story of Frank’s refuge, the discovery of her diary after her death and the global phenomenon that it eventually became. The talk is free and open to the public.

“Symposium: Anne Frank and the Americanization of the Holocaust” will be on Sunday, Oct. 3, after the matinee performance. Lawrence L. Langer, author of the critically acclaimed collections of essays, “Using and Abusing the Holocaust,” “Admitting the Holocaust,” “Preempting the Holocaust” and “Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory," will discuss the evolution of Anne Frank’s story over the last half century and the history behind its cooption as a “universal” story of hope and redemption. Free and open to the public.

“A Conversation with Molly Ephraim,” who plays “Anne” in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” will be on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Barnes & Noble of Westport, 1076 Post Road East. Ephraim will read selections from Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” after which she will be interviewed by Kennedy about her work on this famous role. Ten percent of proceeds from all purchases this day will be donated to the Playhouse. Free and open to the public.

“Resurgence: The Face of Contemporary Anti-Semitism” will be on Wednesday, Oct. 6, after the 8 pm performance. Charles Small, director of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism and founder of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy, will give a talk on the history of anti-Semitism from the early 20th century to today, with a particular emphasis on its contemporary manifestations. This will be followed by a Q&A with the audience. Free and open to the public.

“From Outrage to Advocacy: Raising Public Awareness of Genocide” will be on Thursday, Oct. 7 after the 8 pm performance. The history of genocide in the 20th century has a parallel history of of men and women who made it their mission to raise awareness of these crimes. The audience will learn about the history of advocacy and what today’s advocates are doing to avert tomorrow’s next human rights catastrophe. Free and open to the public.

“A Brief Life Illuminated: The Power of Anne Frank’s Words,” will be on Sunday, Oct. 10, after the matinee performance. Peter Nelson, director of the New York Regional Office of Facing History and Ourselves, will lead a post-show discussion addressing the question, "Why does Anne Frank continue to speak to us with such power?" Free and open to the public.

“Words of Defiance: Writing as Resistance during the Holocaust,” will be on Wednesday, Oct. 13, after the 8 pm performance. Ellen M. Umansky, director of the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University, will explore diary writing as a form of non-violent resistance during the Holocaust, contrasting Holocaust diaries, including Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” with memoirs and other forms of literature. Free and open to the public.

“Talkback with the Actors” will be on Thursday, Oct. 14, after the evening performance. Members of the cast will discuss the creative process, the historical research required of them as actors and the responsibility inherent in bringing this story to life on the stage. Free and open to the public.

“Living to Tell: A Discussion with Child Survivors of Genocide” will be on Sunday, Oct. 17 after the matinee. This panel discussion will focus on the individual experience of genocide, featuring the remarkable stories of several people who survived it as children. Discounted student ticket price to the show of $15. Discussion is free and open to the public.

“So the World Will Know: Attempts to Document Genocide,” on Thursday, Oct. 28, after the 8 pm show will feature a panel, including Taylor Krauss from Voices of Rwanda and Joanne Rudoff from The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University. They will address the unique challenges of methodology, access and preservation in collecting and archiving the voices of survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. Free and open to the public.

Other programs also are available. For more information, visit http://www.westportplayhouse.org/.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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