Thursday, January 31, 2013

Margot Frank: (Not Just) Your Typical Teen

Margot Frank as a teen at the beach

As a teenager, I was crazy busy with many activities. I was training seriously in ballet, I had a full load of classes at school, was involved in choir and drama, and in my last two years of high school was on the school paper. Looking at Margot Frank (Anne Frank's older sister by three years) and her life, it seems we both booked our schedules full of things we loved. She was an avid academic, much more so than I was, at least in the math and science arena. And, unlike me, she aced every single one of her classes. In her famous diary, Anne said of Margot: "My sister Margot has also gotten her report card. Brilliant, as usual. If we had such a thing as "cum laude," she would have passed with honors, she is so smart." (Anne Frank, "Diary of Anne Frank")
Alongside her academics, she regularly attended a Jewish youth club, rowed and played tennis, and had an active social life. Anne, in her diary, mentions Margot going to friends' houses to play ping pong. All these things characterize a relatively normal active teenage life. But all this was before things started changing dramatically for the Jews in Holland. The restrictions started around 1940, when Jews were not to be out on the streets between 8pm and 6 am, and they were barred from theaters, movies, and other forms of entertainment. They also were no longer allowed to use swimming pools or athletic fields. I believe one of the most impactful restrictions in Margot's teenage life (along with being "branded" as a Jew by the star required on their clothing, and the eventual rationing of food, etc for Jews) was the fact she could no longer use tennis courts, row, or participate in any athletic activity in public. From my research it seemed as if she was quite active in sports, and to take that passion and outlet away? She must have felt part of her identity ripped away from her in those moments. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have dance taken away from me.

Margot (left) and Anne Frank

Of course the most immediate threat to Margot and her family (and the entire Jewish population) were the "call-ups," the orders to report to a work/concentration camp as part of the "ethnic cleansing" organized by Hitler-- and as it happened, Margot was the first one of the family called. This was the impetus for the Frank family to go into hiding.
Can you imagine being the reason, even though of course it wasn't her fault, for such a huge change in your family's lifestyle? Otto Frank, her father, had planned for his family to go into hiding for at least a year before Margot's call up. He knew this would happen for awhile. Regardless, I am not sure if Margot felt guilty in the two years they lived cramped together in the "secret annexe." I would imagine that thought would skip through even the most logical person's mind at least once.
Judging by Margot's accomplishments in her teenage years, she no doubt would have become an exceptional adult who could have contributed to the world through her kindness and knowledge.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Margot Frank, the forgotten sister

I am pleased as punch to announce that I have been cast as Margot Frank in Platte Valley Players Theatre's production of "Diary of Anne Frank." On top of that, I am honored beyond belief. This is a story that needs to be told, over and over, so that we do not forget.
The Holocaust is an event that has hung around in my heart and soul like a thin vapor for many years. I can't figure out why or how, but this particular subject has popped up in my life here and there more times than I can count. Watching the movie Schindler's List crushed my heart, and any research of what happened to the Jews chokes me up immediately.
Jewish culture and tradition have also been a huge interest of mine ever since I began studying the Bible, and especially during my years at George Fox Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I have not completed my degree in seminary (though I plan to someday), but when I do I deeply desire for it to be in Jewish/Hebrew/Old Testament studies of some sort. About a year ago, I auditioned for a part in another play (a young Jewish woman) and was fascinated and thrilled by the fact the play highlighted the family's Hebrew traditions. I didn't end up getting cast in the part, but now I see that all these occurences in my life have been milemarkers, guiding the way to this most recent gift I've been given: The chance to portray Margot Frank. I honestly feel as if this is meant to be, and I am beyond excited as I begin to research and study her as a real person. She lived and died, and left a legacy behind her. The most amazing part about the opportunity to portray Margot (and the most intimidating as an actress) is that she is not just a made-up, fictional character in a play.

Margot Frank at about 15 years old.

Margot lives in the shadow of her younger sister Anne, due to the enormous popularity of Anne's diary ("Diary of a Young Girl"). I was a little daunted when I first got cast as Margot, wondering if there was anything out there I could read or watch about her. It seems the only thing many people know about her is that she was Anne's sister. Some people, when I tell them of my casting, even ask me who Margot is. It took some digging, but I have already found quite a lot of information on this fascinating girl. Margot was more of a reserved girl-- smart, kind, and quiet. When compared to Anne's outgoing and entertaining personality she is portrayed, at least in Anne's diary, as quiet as a little mouse. Once I started reading about this "forgotten" sister, however, I immediately found there is a veritable ocean of personality and depth beneath the surface of her deep brown eyes. This was a brilliant girl, destined for greatness, cut down at the very beginning of her adult life.
I will be sharing my "Margot findings" here, including my journey becoming her in rehearsal and onstage. I hope you will enjoy the journey of getting to know and love Margot Betti Frank as much as I have so far.