October 23, 2010

In spite of everything...are people really good at heart?

I had forgotten the power of The Diary of Anne Frank, which we saw today at the Westport Country Playhouse.

The theater was filled with middle school aged-children: the Playhouse was hosting “family day” to encourage this next generation to learn not only about the Holocaust, but about the play’s eternal message of optimism and hope.

Like so many, I first read the book when I was about Anne’s age, which meant I of course identified with Anne, and tried to emulate her eternal optimism. I’ve seen the play and movie several times, but not in the last 20 years or more. And so I was, to put it mildly, blown away, yet again, by this story.

I had forgotten that Anne, after hearing a March 1944 special news report that a Dutch cabinet minister would gather diaries as a record of what had happened, decided to rewrite her diary as a novel that would affect the lives of people she never met. While she never finished her work, her dream succeeded beyond even her expansive imagination.

So many today want to shove the Holocaust into the back recesses of memory. They want to forget how awful we can be to one another. We want to believe it can never happen again. We want ovens to once again be associated with good things: steaming bread, sweet cakes – not the death sites where millions of Jews were exterminated.

Thank goodness Westport Country Playhouse is not willing to let this happen. And thank you, parents, who brought your children on a a beautiful Fall day to the Playhouse for a meaningful and hopefully lasting lesson.

This production in Westport is particularly powerful. It’s on for just one more week. So please, quickly, if you live anywhere near, let your fingers do the running over the keyboard to purchase tickets. And don’t forget to take your children.

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