WAAPA’S Frank ex­change

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Theatre - Tanya Mac­naughton

SERENDIP­ITY struck at the Hy­dra Per­form­ing Arts Fes­ti­val in Greece last July when Cal­i­for­ni­aborn, Toronto-based Ry­er­son Univer­sity School of Per­for­mance pro­fes­sor Peggy Shan­non met WAAPA as­so­ciate dean of per­for­mance An­drew Lewis.

The pair re­alised their train­ing pro­grams were sim­i­lar in style and con­tent and soon de­vel­oped a plan to guest di­rect for each other.

Lewis will travel to Toronto in November to over­see a hol­i­day pan­tomime while Shan­non is at WAAPA di­rect­ing The Di­ary of Anne Frank with third-year act­ing stu­dents.

The sea­son marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the book’s pub­li­ca­tion.

“I’ve never di­rected it be­fore but cer­tainly know the book and I’ve been to her house, which is pretty amaz­ing,” Shan­non said.

“The book is re­quired read­ing for Amer­i­can high school stu­dents and my daugh­ter, who was fin­ish­ing grade 12 at the time, was read­ing and analysing it.

“I agreed to di­rect the play be­cause it’s re­ally not a story about pain or loss, although of course there is huge loss at the end.

“It’s more about a story of sur­vival and hope. It puts a face on this mas­sive atroc­ity that be­comes hard to emo­tion­ally pen­e­trate be­cause it’s so over­whelm­ing. I keep say­ing I’m not go­ing to cry at the end, but I do.”

There are two Jewish stu­dents in the cast of 10.

The fam­ily of one Jewish per­former helped every­one pre­pare for the play by invit­ing the en­tire cast over for a Shab­bat din­ner.

“They talked about the sym­bol­ism of the dif­fer­ent as­pects of the Shab­bat din­ner,” Shan­non said.

“The stu­dents have also been help­ing each other with the prayers be­cause I asked them to be spo­ken in He­brew dur­ing the play rather than English.

“It’s an hon­our to be gifted with telling this story of not just Anne Frank but these fam­i­lies who valiantly and hero­ically lived un­der re­ally tough cir­cum­stances for a very long time.”

Skye Beker and Roy Joseph in The Di­ary of Anne Frank. Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d468306

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