Quigley: What attracted each of you to the story of Anne Frank?
Keiley: The Diary of Anne Frank had a profound effect on me as a child. I read the book
when I was Anne’s age. Living in Newfoundland, I had no cultural connection to
Anne, as I had never met a Jewish person. However, it was very meaningful to me
that someone so far away and so different from me had the exact same thoughts I
had. I was thinking those same thoughts about boys, about my mother. Her
writing was so good and so true that, although she was living under extreme
circumstances, she still felt very normal to me.
Gerecke: I grew up in the south end of Winnipeg,
surrounded by Jewish kids, so I was closely connected to that culture and
religion. The story had a different resonance for me. Anne’s writing was so contemporary,
brave and bold. It’s hard to say some of the things she said. I was inspired to
keep a diary to write those things that I wasn’t saying out loud.
Last season you worked closely together on Alice
Through the Looking-Glass. How would you describe your
I have known Bretta’s work for a long time, and I knew she
told stories through her designs in the same way I did, so I trusted her.
We share the same vision of storytelling. The process is a
very organic flow of ideas. You trust that the other person is creative and
smart and that what you are putting out there is being received in the spirit
you intended. Everyone on the team wants to tell the story in the best way
possible. You bring your own area of expertise into the mix, so a particular
moment is told visually or through music, choreography or text, but you all
find that through working together.
exactly how you want the process to work. In this production I see the design
as storyteller, as opposed to a place where the story happens. And Jonathan
Monro, the composer, who is also an actor, uses the music as part of the process of telling the story
Is this a way of breathing new life into an older text?
This is sacred text and we have to be careful. We are
doing something artistically driven, but we can’t make the show about art at
the cost of the story.
We don’t want to distract the audience from what the play
is about. Anne was a force of goodness in the world; this story is about the
extinguishing of an incredible light. If something in the design doesn’t feel
right, it pulls you out of that story rather than taking you into a place of
deeper understanding. It is a delicate balance to provide a background that
supports the story, assists in the process of storytelling, but doesn’t detract
from the story itself.
PQ: How will you maintain that
We are going to involve the audience in the collaboration.
The actors will come out and introduce themselves and identify the parts they’re
going to be playing. We are also going to introduce the singing and explain the
set: “It becomes the kitchen and also transforms into the bedroom.” We let the
audience in on all of the technical aspects beforehand, and then the set
becomes a beautiful bed upon which the text is spread out, not a bed imposed on
the text. This is important, because the design is conceptual, not literal, and
we don’t want the audience taken out of the
story as they try to figure out what something is or how it works.
Children’s Plays presents The Diary of Anne Frank.