Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
and Baltimore’s Arts Community Remember
Anne Frank and the Universal Lessons of the Holocaust
BALTIMORE (March 29, 2019) – Anne Frank would be 90 years old this June. It is hard to imagine that buoyant personality grounded by nine decades of experience and age. She is forever a teen for many who have read her posthumously published diary, mourned the budding talent silenced in the Holocaust, and reckoned with its lessons for our times.
Baltimore’s arts community – one forged in grit, grace, and the burden of the city’s own historic divisions – is now poised to shine a light on those lessons. Major exhibitions, performances, and public conversations linked by the golden threads of remembrance and tolerance are scheduled through Spring. From now through June (and beyond), Baltimore’s unexpected arts synergy will honor the voices of Anne Frank and visual artists – as well as descendants and survivors of oppression and genocide – in a citywide exploration of the universal lessons of the Holocaust.
A Shakespeare theater, a historically black university, two world-renowned museums of art, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and more have added their voices and events. How it came to be that cultural arts institutions from unexpected corners of the city aligned says volumes about Baltimore’s evolving identity and the power of the arts.
The vision to use Frank’s story to spark a wider conversation began at Baltimore’s Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, a theater as known for its outreach off stage as for its classic plays. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company sees its mission as showcasing the contemporary relevance of early works, from 400-year-old masterpieces to “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
While researching the play, the theater drew on the resources of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York. A Baltimore synagogue encouraged the theater to regard the play as a window through which audiences could begin to explore and understand the Holocaust. They counseled the theater company to recognize that for some patrons, particularly young audiences, the play may be an introduction to a dark period of world history that is receding from memory.
According to a 2018 survey, nearly half of Americans (45 percent) cannot name a single Holocaust concentration camp, and the majority (52 percent) believe, inaccurately, that Hitler took power by force. An even greater majority (58 percent) think something like the Holocaust could happen again.
A vital role of theater is to tell the stories that make a difference. For Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and its community partners, this coming April and May will be a “Spring of Remembrance.”
All images are © Anne Frank House, Netherlands, Photographs by Cris Toala Olivares, used by permission.
Events at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company include:
The Diary of Anne Frank
April 26 – May 26, 2019
A play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Based upon “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl”
Newly Adapted by Wendy Kesselman
Directed by Eve Muson
Presented by PNC Bank and The Herbert Bearman Foundation
Performances are scheduled Thursdays through Sundays at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. John Damond Jr., a Baltimore librarian who has spent more than 25 years researching Anne Frank’s life, will lead preshow conversations on May 4, 11, 16, and 26. School matinees: Through a collaboration with the Baltimore Jewish Council, students will speak with a Holocaust survivor after the play. Click here for tickets.
“Spring of Remembrance”
Events in the Baltimore Arts Community
Theatre Morgan at Morgan State University will present Anne & Emmett, a play depicting a fictional conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, April 26 – 28 and May 2-4, 2019. The play tackles the enormous topics of racism and prejudice by introducing two teenagers from different times and places who share a common tragedy. Click here to learn more about this play and other Theatre Morgan productions.
The world-renowned Baltimore Museum of Art presents “Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s” through May 26, 2019. Exploring how war impacts art, the exhibit features 90 works by such artists as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Dorothea Tanning. The exhibit also highlights the connection between art and human rights: In response to Germany’s invasion of France in 1940, a group of more than 200 artists and influential professionals formed The Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC), with the aim of helping intellectuals and artists escape the occupation. Click here to learn more.
The Jewish Museum of Maryland is a constant source of Jewish representation and celebration in Baltimore. From April 7 to August 4, “Stitching History from the Holocaust,” will exhibit dresses created from sketches of Hedy Strnad, who sent these designs to her husband’s family in America as part of an attempt to escape from Prague in 1939. The effort was unsuccessful, and Hedy and Paul were murdered in the Holocaust. “Stitching History from the Holocaust” brings to life one small but deeply personal and human example of what the Holocaust took from humanity. Click here to learn more.
The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), the country’s official national museum for autodidact artists, premiered “Esther & The Dream of One Loving Human Family” in 2001. This exhibit of needlework and fabric collages has since visited 42 other museums worldwide and has returned to AVAM this month for a brand-new, five-year installation. Its 36 pieces depict Esther Nisenthal Krinitz’s survival of the Holocaust. Esther’s work will be accompanied by art from Rwandan Tutsi genocide survivors, Native American activist and artist Judy Tallwing, and more, warning against the danger of “othering.” Click here to learn more.
The William and Irene Weinberg Family Baltimore Jewish Film Festival, March 23 – April 16, at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts, will include films with Holocaust remembrance themes. Click here to learn more.
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company: Jean Thompson, Director of Communications, 410-244-8571 x106 (office) and 443-845-6130 (cell), Thompson@chesapeakeshakespeare.com