Racial prejudice and intolerance is being tackled by Leeds Children’s Theatre as they perform The Diary of Anne Frank, 70 years after her death at camp Bergen-Belsen in March 1945.
The amateur theatre group will be opening the gripping new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman tonight at the Carriageworks Theatre.
Director Manda Lister, 25, said: “Having studied the diary numerous times it occurred to me that despite the events happening over 70 years ago prejudice and intolerance still exist in today’s society.
“Anne’s story is relatable to all who have been on the receiving end of hate crimes, racism and intolerance and we felt it was important to educate young people with such a well-known story.”
Maddy Miller, 13, who is starring in the lead role, said: “Playing Anne Frank has been such an honour as it is such an important role in history with a powerful message that needs to be told.”
The original stage play by Goodrich and Hackett has been adapted to include newly discovered texts from Anne Frank’s diary as well as survivor accounts to provide a moving insight in to the lives of eight people hiding from the Nazis.
The Franks and four others hid in a secret annex for two years before being betrayed and sent to concentration camps, where most, including Anne, died. Anne’s father, Otto, was the only one from the group to survive the Holocaust and went on to publish Anne’s diary, making it to this day a hugely important piece of work.
Co-Director, Mike Lockwood, 23, said: “My inspiration for getting involved was to be able to broaden my horizons.
“I have been a member of LCT for 10 years now and have performed and helped backstage on many occasions but I wanted to take on another challenge and try directing.
“It’s been a brilliant experience and an interesting learning curve but something I’d love to do again.”
Leeds Children’s Theatre is one of the longest standing theatre groups of its kind, founded in 1935 as a small community group it is now one of the leading children’s amateur theatre groups in the UK and has developed people like Peter O’Toole and John Craven.
Miss Lister said: “With help from the Anne Frank Trust, who have kindly loaned us exhibition pieces, we hope to show young people the consequences of intolerance and in essence relay to them that the Holocaust much never be forgotten or repeated.”
“Our talented cast have brought these characters to life and using their talents, I believe we can make a change no matter how small.”
The play runs until Saturday. It starts at 7pm with a Saturday matinee. Tickets are £10 and still available.