By Lauren Frasier, Capital High School Intern to ThurstonTalk
Lines are being memorized, scripts read, lights adjusted, and every scene is being meticulously rehearsed until it is acted to perfection. For Capital High School’s drama program, all the practice is worth it as they get ready for their winter production, “And Then They Came For Me: Remembering The World of Anne Frank.”
This production is very different from what students are used to performing. It’s a multimedia show, using video interviews to tell the story of Eva Schloss and Ed Silverberg, both survivors of the holocaust who knew Anne Frank personally. Ed and Eva tell their story through interviews, while students act out flashbacks.
CHS student actors find their roles to be both challenging and rewarding. Sophomore Kameron Bustetter, who plays Ed says, “It’s been a journey so far and it’s going to continue to be.”
The cast has done extensive research as a group on the Holocaust and the events that transpired. They want to immerse themselves in it, so they can do justice to the real life characters they play and the difficult era in history. “It’s really hard to imagine something so terrible happening to you, but these are real people and real stories,” says Sophie Bustetter, who plays Eva. “We want to do justice to their story.”
The students have found portraying real life people especially challenging. “You can’t make up how they would act or their mannerisms,” explains Kameron. “You have to go out and find how that person acted, how they said and pronounced things.”
Hayley Kuster, who plays Anne Frank adds, “it’s definitely harder when you play a real character because you can’t make up a story for them.” Though difficult she has found the process rewarding. “It’s been kind of fun researching, watching movies and seeing how different people have interpreted her.”
Director and drama teacher Kristina Cummins believes her cast has done a wonderful job overcoming these obstacles. “I’m so incredibly proud of my cast and crew,” she explains. “They have embraced the material, and are seeking a depth of understanding for the Holocaust and the characters that they’re portraying.”
For the tech crew, the multimedia production has posed different challenges. Timing is everything when it comes to the projection screen that is on stage for the duration of the show. “The challenge of this show is that you have to match it up,” says Stage Manager Graceanne Moses of the live acting and the recorded real-life interviews. Besides Eva and Ed’s interviews, there will also be pictures of them and Anne that match up to scene being acted out on stage.
The students feel that despite the many challenges, it’s a story that needs telling. While first reading the scripts, the cast immediately felt an emotional connection. Sophie shares of the script, “It’s so intense.” The cast is hoping to move the audience in the same manner with their performance.
Handling such difficult and emotional material is made easier by the close knit relationships among the cast. “It’s easier to do a harder show like this when everyone around you is positive,” Kuster explains.
The cast usually works for a couple hours, every day after school. Outside rehearsals, they also bond together through various team building exercises such as volunteering together at the Thurston County Food Bank.
To the cast, it’s more than just a show. It’s more than a performance or the compilation of hours of rehearsals. It’s more than memorized lines or perfecting the character. It’s a story that needs to be told. It’s a message that needs to be spread.
“We’ve had conversations together about why we need to tell this story,” Cummins explains. “We’ve found that the only way to combat hate is through compassion and love.” It’s a message that can be applied to all aspects of life, in the CHS production, the lives of the cast and crew and in our own lives as well.
Cummins hopes that the audience takes something away from this performance. “We’re hoping to remind our community to continue to have compassion for one another.”
The show continues January 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. and January 31 at 2:30 p.m. Each performance will be held in the Performing Arts Auditorium at Capital High School, 2707 Conger Avenue N.W., Olympia.
Tickets are $7 for students and senior citizens and $10 for the general public.
Call the box office at (360) 596-8053 for more information and to reserve your tickets.