ANNE Frank’s life-affirming reflection in her famous Holocaust-era diary that “people are really good at heart” was tested last week, when a swastika was daubed on a poster promoting a small Melbourne theatre company’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank.
But while actors and crew of the Peridot Theatre Company in Mount Waverley were shocked when a cast member encountered the spray-painted scrawl after the second performance of the play at a local theatre last Saturday night, they have committed themselves to their season with renewed vigour.
Peridot’s president Alison Knight told The AJN that after she was told by the stage manager that the poster had been defaced, it was photographed and reported to police, and the following morning, she and her husband erased the offensive markings.
“I was sickened. You just don’t expect that to happen in Mount Waverley. The cast was very upset. They’d taken a lot of effort to learn about the story – I don’t think any of them are Jewish – they visited the Holocaust Museum and took months to learn about it and have done a lot of background research,” said Knight.
She said the theatre company chose to stage The Diary of Anne Frank because it “has relevance today”.
The play is based on the diary of teenaged Frank, written while she and her family hid from the Nazis in an annexe in Amsterdam, detailing the claustrophobic realities of their existence. The family was eventually discovered and she later perished at Bergen-Belsen.
Knight said the production’s director Kellie Tweeddale “was keen to present that story, it was something she felt very strongly about. I’d seen it myself at another theatre company about five years ago. The world today is becoming more and more extreme and I think we need to tell these stories to show how it affected ordinary people who have done nothing wrong”.
On its Facebook page, Peridot Theatre posted, “We are honoured to tell Anne’s story. We say NO to hate.”
Condemning the graffiti, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the swastika is a “sign of infamy, evil and hate”.
“Sadly though, it’s becoming all too common across vandalised sites in Melbourne,” Frydenberg said. “These criminals have no shame and no sense of history.”
Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich, who visited the cast and crew this week, stated, “We stand proudly with Peridot Theatre … This shameful and cowardly desecration of Holocaust remembrance is clearly driven by hate-mongers and bigots who wish to destroy Anne Frank’s enduring legacy and her words of courage and hope that have inspired so many around the world.
“This is also an attack on the memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis,” he said, expressing the hope that the vandals “are identified and are dealt with to the fullest extent of the law”.