The name Anne Frank is inexorably linked with the Holocaust and immediately brings to mind the tragic story of a young girl lost too soon. The question of who she would have become is left unanswered. In James Still’s play “And Then They Came for Me," he explores the lives of two children who survived, despite all odds. The play is being produced for the third time on the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Upperstage and is being seen by a new generation of students in dozens of matinée performances.
Eva Geiringer and Ed Silverberg both knew Anne Frank. All three were Jewish children desperately trying to escape the persecution of the Nazi party. Through the portrayal of a small cast of actors and the real footage from filmed interviews with Eva and Ed as seniors, audiences are able to hear their powerful stories. The cast is made up of four young actors and two veteran performers (Mark Goetzinger and Jennifer Johansen) who balance the lively earnestness of the newcomers. The set manages to incorporate elements of barbed wire and train tracks along with large flat screen TVs to broadcast the interviews. It’s a stark atmosphere, perfectly attune to the dire subject matter.
My favorite element of the show is the combination of the interviews and the acting. Still splices them together in a way that showcases the raw emotion of the real individuals and the skilled performers who bring their stories to life. Seeing the survivors tell their own stories and then watching those experiences unfold before you is a powerful experience. It adds a heaviness to a history lesson that we sometimes take for granted. Still makes the horror of their situations resonate by reminding us how foreign the discrimination was at that time. They went from being part of a community to being shunned and hunted in a matter of only a few years.
The Holocaust has lost some of its shock for generations over the years. As we learn about it in history books it’s easy to forget how disturbing it truly was. This play brings that reality home and gives audiences a chance to witness the terror first hand. Showing the events through the eyes of adolescents makes it even more heartbreaking.
Don't Miss the Show
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "And Then They Came for Me" runs until Saturday, Feb. 15 on IRT's Upperstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com
*Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing