The Voice of Anne Frank speaks to the cares and delights of a thirteen-year-old girl forced to reckon with the extraordinary circumstances of her time. Her message endures far beyond the last pages of her diary to express not only her very special voice but also that of those who survived, those who didn't and those of us who are left to find contemporary meaning in her story.
In a production that features movement, music, spoken text, lighting and sound Miřenka Čechová brings The Voice of Anne Frank to life in a way that is touching, humorous and deeply affecting.
Use of text fragments of the Diary of Anne Frank with kind permission of the Anne Frank Foundation, Basel, Switzerland.
Awards: Outstanding Performance Award (Prague Fringe), Best of Fringe (Amsterdam Fringe), Best of Oversea Performance (National Arts Festival in Grahamstown)
Performances: Roxy / NoD (CZ), Fringe Prague (CZ), Small Inventory 2008 (CZ), Festival Evropských regionů (CZ), Divadlo Děčín (CZ), Palác Akropolis (CZ), Die Etage (DE), Katzen Art Centrum AU (USA), University of Tampa (USA), Bohemian National Hall (USA), Mercersburg Academy (USA), site-specific Statek Rabín (CZ), International Festival Zero Point (CZ), i-camp/Neues Theater München (DE), Prague Fringe (CZ), Amsterdam Fringe (NL), National Arts Festival (JAR), The Market Theatre (JAR), Acco Festival (ISR), The Kennedy Center / Terrace Theatre (USA)
The Voice of
DC Metro Theater Arts
11.2015 - Eliza Anna Falk
Washington Jewish Week
11.2015 - Lisa Traiger
The coming-of-age story of the young Anne Frank, immortalized in the diaries she kept while in hiding from the Nazis with her family in Amsterdam during World War II, has tugged the heartstrings of generations of readers. Young women, particularly, learn about the changes in themselves through Frank’s honest documentation and reflections of her own.
That raw, brutal emotion and the hopelessness of her experiences have been brought to life in “The Voice of Anne Frank,” with equally compelling visual and sound elements. Miřenka Ćechová, a Czech actor, choreographer and director, developed the performance several years ago and works with cellist Nancy Jo Snider to bring the emotional landscape alive further through sound.
The pair are visiting Stephens College on Sunday, giving workshops for students. Monday, they will host a lecture and demonstration that touches on the history and development of this production; it isn’t the full production, Snider said in an email, because they don’t have the space or their technical artists along for this trip.
“The Voice of Anne Frank” has been performed all over the world, picking up accolades and praise wherever it travels — its next stop is the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater later this month. Snider, director of the music program in the department of performing arts at American University and a co-creator in the project, said it has “required me to learn a new way of creating that involved original sound design, improvisation and a totally different creative concept. Learning how to create in this new way has been absolutely life changing for me!”
While Snider has composed much of the music, she improvises a bit during each performance, “and hopefully, even the parts that are ‘planned’ have something new each time, ... but mostly I would call it a sound design,” she said. “Everything has meaning related to the work.”
The emotion conveyed through the music offsets and compliments the striking movements of Ćechová, who has co-created a genre unto itself — a style that dips into various influences from the Japanese Butoh dance theater to mime. In fact, she calls it “physical mime.”
On stage, the combination of Ćechová’s physical narrative melds with the music and with stage design elements, like a sheet stretched and used as a sort of tympanic membrane of tension. “The lighting design, by Martin Spetlik, also adds tremendously to the atmosphere and emotion of the performance,” Snider said.
Snider and Ćechová have been brought to Stephens under the auspices of Gail Humphries Mardirosian, the school’s new dean of the school of performing arts. She is launching her tenure with a new initiative, titled Intersections, designed to connect national, international and interdisciplinary artists with the students and Columbia’s community.
Mardirosian, while a Fulbright scholar in Prague, met Ćechová at the Academy of Performing Arts. “We collaborated on a production of ‘Smoke of Home,’” she said in an email, “a play written by two young men incarcerated at the Nazi transit camp of Terezin. ... Subsequently, I was able to arrange for Miřenka to have an invitation to my home institution at that time, American University, and she also became a Fulbright scholar.”
Mardirosian and Snider have collaborated on several projects over the years. “She generated the design of an astonishing soundscape for a tribute to Vaclav Havel entitled ‘Kaleidoscope,’” Mardirosian said. “We were fortunate enough to present the tribute at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in honor of Vaclav Havel with an astonishing array of individuals, including Madeleine Albright. With this piece, we combined music and movement to bring to life one of Havel’s letters written to his wife while he was incarcerated.”
“The Voice of Anne Frank” is “a unique combination of music, the spoken word and physical theater,” Mardirosian said.
“Anne’s story is served in a magnificent way. When you hear the cello, it as if you are hearing her soul — joy, sorrow, frustration, a full range of emotions. When you watch Miřenka, you see her spirit enacted on stage. Stories of the Holocaust need to be presented to us a reminders of truth, and theater can do this for audiences. Theater generates such visceral connections for us and allows for important stories to connect and resonate.”