Tuesday, February 26, 2013


What would it be like to be closed in? To never be able to leave a very, very small space shared with seven other people? Not to mention, these seven might not be your favorite people in the world.

Throw in the fact that every noise you make might betray the fact you are in hiding? One toilet flush could cost you, and your friends, your lives.

Can you even imagine?

The Frank family not long before going into hiding (left to right: Margot, Otto, Anne, and Edith) 

I can't (I get antsy when I am unable to leave the house just for one day). But the Frank family can. They lived in a  small attic space for two years in Holland with four other people. Not for some kind of social experiment, or to participate in a reality tv show. They did it to survive.

While playing Margot, there will be many scenes that I will be onstage and not delivering lines. We will silently be doing normal "everyday" activities in different parts of the onstage space .This is the same for the rest of the cast. We will not leave stage or have entrances and exits-- EVER. Just as the Franks, Van Daans and Mr. Dussel could not leave the Annexe.

Margot Frank as a small child, years before going into hiding

Can you imagine how much self control it would have taken to live in this manner for an extended period? To be trapped without any opportunity to leave? For Margot, I see that most of her life in hiding revolved around books and studying. These were quiet activities and from what we know she was quite the bookworm in the first place. I would guess that reading was really the only thing that could take her attention off her present life  to take her away to other locations and lands, to enrich her mind and soul, and see significant transformation at least within herself. With all the changes they longed for on the outside world it would seem as if these inner changes could be greatly treasured.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Margot, Margot, Margot... The Original Marcia?

Margot and Anne Frank at the beach

Do you have an older sibling? A sibling that your parents used as an example when you might not have been behaving at your absolute best? If not,  have you at least seen the famous Brady Bunch episode where Jan gets angry that Marcia is getting all the attention and finally cries out in teen angst, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!!"

Welcome to Margot Frank's world. I already knew she was a straight-A student and it has also been said more than once she was a model young lady. It also appears as if she, as many other big sisters, served as an example to Anne in how she should act. Anne writes in her diary more than once about how her parents ask her to act more like Margot. In our play script for "The Diary of Anne Frank," Anne protests as she runs out of the room, "Margot is perfect... I'll NEVER be Margot!" I wonder how soon and often Margot got frustrated by this, knowing she wasn't indeed perfect. I wonder, though described as quiet and reserved, what she wrote about in her diary concerning this frequent comparison.

I do not have a little sister. In fact, I only have two brothers (one older and one younger). Sarah, who is playing Anne in our production, recently told me she also doesn't have a sister either. I have a feeling we will soon learn a little more about what having a sister is like. Simply rehearsing our "sister scenes" that in real life took place in such a tiny attic space, has shown me a bit about their sisterly dynamics and fireworks.  Through my research of the relationship between Anne and Margot, I see the sibling rivalry between them was intense at times. It couldn't be helped that all issues and grievances were magnified so greatly in such a small space occupied by eight people.

Margot and Anne Frank

Miep Gies, one of the "helpers" who hid the Frank family in the attic space above Otto Frank's business, described Margot as very different from firecracker Anne: "Margot had a way of making herself invisible. She never got in the way, she made no demands" (Miep Gies, Anne Frank Remembered). There was a three year difference between Anne and Margot, and the distinctions between their personalities also become obvious in Anne's writings. Anne wrote in her diary: "I don't get along with Margot very well either. Even though our family never has the same kind of outbursts as they do upstairs, I find it far from pleasant. Margot's and Mother's personalities are so alien to me." (Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl).

Despite all the fireworks and quiet struggles that went on in their relationship, I observe a great bond of sisterly love between Anne and Margot. There were times in the Annexe they sat and bonded over their dreams, hopes, and everyday struggles. They wrote notes to each other during their time in hiding. Margot proved herself to not only be a "good example," but someone who understood her younger sister more than Anne probably realized.  I see maturity and sweetness in the way she reacted to and tried to help Anne in her oftentimes emotionally impulsive outbursts toward her and others. I see her trying to help Anne understand the situation and herself better, in an extremely trying emotional and physical environment. And as her life in the Annexe unfolded, Anne matured from a young girl into a woman. I believe she eventually realized that Margot was not just an older sister but a desperately needed friend, someone to hold onto-- literally for dear life.

There are of course no records written by Margot or Anne after being taken from their hiding place, after being transported to the work/concentration camps where they both eventually died of typhus. But I imagine their experience together in such close quarters became a treasure of comfort and nourishment to both of them in their last months of life.