Explore More: The Secret Annex

Last night, local playwright Alix Sobler‘s The Secret Annex had its world premiere on the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s Warehouse stage.

secret annexAnne Frank has survived the war, and at age 25, she’s ready to start a new chapter in New York City. Eager to publish a memoir of her time in hiding, Anne is sure it will launch her career as a writer. But when the only interested publisher demands drastic rewrites, Anne questions the meaning of her new life. Why did she survive, if not to share stories? In her compelling and provocative play, Manitoba playwright Alix Sobler asks: can the past be rewritten?

Explore more “behind the scenes” of the production with these recommended reads…

Explore What Might Have Been

Anne Frank’s open and vibrant personality, as expressed in her own words, has captivated millions of people. It’s hardly surprising that writers other than Sobler have also wanted to depict her life and how it could have been different, if just a few details had changed. Here are a few of the possibilities they’ve imagined.

margotMargot, Jillian Cantor. It’s 1959 and “Margie Franklin” has a secret: she is really Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported but escaped to America. As her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed post-war life begins to fall apart as she copes with grief and survivor’s guilt.

The Ghost Writer, Philip Roth. A young woman writer tells her literary mentor she is Anne Frank. Is she trying to impress him? Is she mentally disturbed? Regardless, Roth’s protagonist invents for himself a convincing tale of how Anne might have survived and adopted a new identity.

“The Eighth Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging” , Harry Turtledove. “She’d wanted to be the best writer in the world…” Award-winning science fiction author Turtledove is well-known for his alternate histories. In this online story (first published January 2014), he introduces us to a strangely familiar old woman.

Explore the Ethics of Historical Fiction

Some of the works above have come under harsh criticism by readers and reviewers for altering the facts we know of Anne’s life and death. What do you think – does doing so trivialize the Holocaust or exploit Anne’s memory?

“Are novelists entitled to use real-life characters?”, Guy Gavriel Kay. Canadian novelist Kay explains his refusal to write in the voices of real people (whether living or dead) as a matter of privacy in this essay from the Guardian.

historyNovel History, Mark Carnes (ed). Can fiction ever reflect the past with accuracy? Twenty historians consider the question as applied to several classic novels; most of the essays are followed by a response from the novelist. The dialogues illuminate one of the most fascinating literary issues of our time – the relation between the “real” past and our portrayal of it.

Explore Other Children’s Stories

bergThe Diary of Mary Berg. Her real name was Miriam Wattenberg, and her story of life in the Warsaw ghetto was one of the very few eye-witness accounts published in the English-speaking world before the end of the war. Unlike Anne, she survived to see it.

 

ginzThe Diary of Petr Ginz. In 1941, Petr Ginz was an adventurous, artistic teenager living in Prague who painted and wrote poetry and novels. His diaries describe daily family life and document the introduction of anti-Jewish laws from a young adult’s point of view.

Tell No One Who You Are, Walter Buchignani. Anne’s family stayed together, but many other Jewish children were separated from their families to be protected. At the age of ten Régine Miller, completely alone and shuttled from hiding place to hiding place, heard that her mother and brother had been taken by the SS. Only the hope that her father might return sustained her.

Explore the Impact of the Diary

Anne Frank Remembered, Miep Gies. Written by the woman who helped to shelter Anne’s family for more than two years, and who was responsible for preserving the famous diary and other papers. A vivid tale of Dutch life under German occupation, including the “Hunger Winter.”

afterlifeAnne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, Francine Prose. Prose analyzes the diary as a piece of literature rather than as history and makes the case for it being a deliberate work of art from a precociously gifted writer.

 

schlossAfter Auschwitz, Eva Schloss. After the war, Eva’s mother married Anne’s father, and so she grew up with one of the most famous girls in the world as a kind of ghostly stepsister. Her autobiography is honest about the toll that ensuring Anne’s legacy was never forgotten took on the entire family.

Danielle

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