Richland High drama students are tackling one of their most challenging plays to date.
And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank opens March 2 in the auditorium at the high school.
"This play is very special and different for a few reasons," explained director Ellicia Elliott. "The production is different from anything we've done before, and it's a multimedia piece where actors interact with documentary film and interviews from Holocaust survivors."
The play runs 70 minutes long and is even more heart-wrenching than The Diary of Anne Frank because it is being told by friends of Anne Frank who survived the holocaust.
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"The story focuses on why the holocaust started, what different people went through during the war, and what happened to those who survived and did not survive the concentration camps," Elliott said. "I chose this piece specifically to have the story be more accessible to young people who may not be used to traditional theater, but rather movies and television."
Camry Balero and Nicole Clements share the role of Anne Frank's friend Eva Geiringer, and later Eva Schloss. The part made a lifetime impression on the 18-year-old Camry.
"This play has really given me (an outlook) on the way I treat each day," Balero said. "It is so inspiring to see in such depth what the Jews went through. Every line I recite reminds me how blessed I am to be able to have religious freedom and just be able to expect to live another day."
Nicole said she welcomed the emotional challenge of playing a victim of the Holocaust.
"I could never imagine having to leave my family, go into hiding, live in concentration camps, or to come home and realize most of my friends were dead," she said. "I have learned so much from just reading the lines, and acting them out is one of the scariest and craziest things I have done."
Hannah Ashby and Taylor Huff, both juniors, portray members of the Hitler youth.
Hannah has taken a second look at how history teaches about World War II.
"Usually when we study the holocaust, in school we focus on the Jewish population and on those who were sent to the concentration camps," she said. "Playing the part of a Nazi child has really helped me gain a new perspective. The children of Nazis were victims in a different way. They were brainwashed and manipulated. Seven-year-old children were taught to hate everyone and everything that didn't line up exactly with Hitler's teachings.
"The things young children were forced to do and the morals that were ingrained into their brains are nothing short of tragic."
Ethan Dodd, a junior, is the male lead in the drama. He portrays Helmuth Silberberg, who was Anne Frank's boyfriend before she went into hiding.
He found his role as Helmuth challenging as well as interesting.
"This show does a great job highlighting the struggles of those who fell victim to the Nazi party," he said. "And focuses more on their struggle and powerlessness rather than the outside forces that were imposing this difficulty."
Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. March 2-3, 9-10. Tickets are $8 adults, $6 students and available at the door.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com