CCC ends theater season with 'And Then They Came for Me'
"And Then They Came For Me," by James Still, "is a unique theatrical experience: a multimedia play that combines videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors with live actors recreating scenes from their lives during World War II," said director Julie Akers.
The play, the final one for the season for Clackamas Community College's Theater Department, opens May 23 and runs through June 2. The full name of the production is "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank," and the taped interviews of Holocaust survivors feature Ed Silverberg and Eva Schloss.
"Ed was Anne Frank's first boyfriend, and she wrote about him in the beginning of her now-famous diary. Eva Schloss was the same age as Anne and lived in the same apartment building in Amsterdam," Akers said.
The Schloss family went into hiding the same day as the Frank family, and like the Frank family, they were betrayed.
"On Eva's 15th birthday, her family was arrested by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. Eva and her mother survived, and after the war her mother married Otto Frank," Akers said.
Sydney Erlandson, a 17-year-old CCC student, plays Schloss in the production.
She researched the role so she could better "present it to the audience; it is Eva's story to be told."
It is unusual for students to get the opportunity to play real people, and Akers said the best part of directing the play was enlightening the students about the Holocaust.
"It was exciting to watch; they experienced these characters in a different way," she said.
The biggest challenge for the students was integrating the videotaped interviews into the flow of the play.
"Their acting partner is a video; adding in multimedia is a new thing to adapt to," Akers said.
Audiences will like the way the play is structured because it "eases them into the dark places in a way that you get to know the characters and know them personally," she said. And then the play "eases the audience back into the real world in a comfortable way."
Coming into the play, everyone already knows that Anne dies in a concentration camp, but two of Anne's friends did survive, so "that gives you hope," Akers said. She further noted that Schloss is still alive and makes appearances to talk about the Holocaust.
Akers has directed this play before, including a production at Rex Putnam High School in 2017. Her dream is to have a traveling troupe of actors who can stage the play at every high school in the state.
"This subject matter is so important," Akers said, and it concerns her that not all students learn about the Holocaust in school.
That will change, however, since the Oregon Senate recently approved a measure requiring schools to teach students about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide as part of the statewide social studies curriculum.
See the show
What: Clackamas Community College's Theater Department presents "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank"
When: 7:30 p.m. May 23-25, May 30-June 2. Also 2:30 p.m. May 26, June 2; and 10 a.m. May 29.
Where: Niemeyer Osterman Theatre, 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City
Details: Visit clackamas.edu/theatre or call 503-594-3153 for reservations.
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