A Friend of Anne Frank

multimedia show features appearance by survivor

Mike Seitz, photos by Tim Mather

To be staged at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts March 25–29, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank features Anne Frank’s childhood friend Eva Schloss (below).
To be staged at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts March 25–29, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank features Anne Frank’s childhood friend Eva Schloss (below).

Anne Frank is one of the most recognize-able victims of the Holocaust, and her diary is one of the most well known pieces of literature produced as a result of World War II. And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank is an incredibly powerful, multi-media play that illustrates the lives of Eva Schloss and Ed Silverberg; two Holocaust survivors who were close companions of Anne Frank.

The show will be showing at the Mabel Tainter Theater March 25 through 29. Tami Weiss, who is co-directing the play with Chris White, told me that this play hopes to have an impact on everyone who goes to see it. No one should be hesitant to attend, because although the play is surrounded by the heavy nature of the Holocaust, this is a story of human endurance against impossible odds, powerful and not one to miss.

Schloss was a childhood friend of Frank’s and lived in the same apartment building and Silverberg was Frank’s first boyfriend. The play uses videotaped interviews of Eva and Ed, which give the audience a better understanding of their struggle, but make a much deeper connection to their story by weaving in recreated scenes from their lives. A cast featuring some of Menomonie’s most talented actors and actresses will bring the story to life and gives the audience a rounded understanding of what happened to Schloss and Silverberg.

Eva Schloss
Eva Schloss

Schloss is portrayed by Grace Simpson, a high school junior from Menomonie. Considering the fact that many of her previous roles have been rather light-hearted, portraying such a serious role has been challenging. However, Simpson told me this is an important play and sends a message that must be heard.

Kelan Smith, who is playing the role of Ed Silverberg, is in a similar boat. This is easily the most dramatic role he has faced, and has required his full intensity and stamina. Although it’s tough, Kelan said that he feels honored to play this role and is excited about the play.

What makes this production even more incredible is that Eva Schloss herself will be in attendance at the theater on March 29. Schloss, 85, will come to Menomonie and audience members will get a chance to meet her following each of the shows on Sunday. As a result, the cast will get to meet one the people that the play is about.

Simpson, who is playing Schloss in the show, will then get to meet her, truly making this a once in a lifetime experience. While this may be a little nerve-wracking for Grace and Kelan, it has made them work even harder to make their performances the best they can be.

The shows on March 29 are by invitation only, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t get a chance to meet Eva. She will also be speaking at UW-Stout the following Monday (March 30.

Weiss first saw this play five years ago, and the impact she felt seeing it then is something she still feels today. The Holocaust was one of the worst travesties against humanity; however Tami also said she wouldn’t direct something that depresses her. “And Then They Came For Me” offers hope and displays the human ability to endure under the worst of circumstances.

For ticket information and show times, visit Mabel Tainter’s website at mabeltainter.org, or by phone at 235-0001.

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