Shalom Life | April 17, 2014

Sascha Cole Reprises the Role of Anne Frank

The Toronto-based actress talks about what drew her to the role.

By: Ilan Mester

Published: March 15th, 2012 in Culture » Stage » Interviews

Sascha Cole Reprises the Role of Anne Frank

Rising theatre star Sascha Cole will be reprising the role of Anne Frank in Shakespeare In Action’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank (running from March 15 to March 24 at the Al Green Theatre). The Toronto-based actress talks about what originally drew her to the role and the challenges of playing Anne Frank in this exclusive interview.

How does it feel to be stepping back into the role of Anne Frank?

I am thrilled to be revisiting Anne. Re-mounting a production is a great opportunity to continue exploring the character and investigating moments in the show. I often spend so much of the rehearsal process trying to remember my lines, where I am supposed to be on stage and whether or not I have the correct props in my hand...with all of that out of the way this time, it is a great chance to return to the truth of each moment in the play.

What originally drew you to the role?

To be honest, I was quite surprised that I was cast in the role, as I initially thought I was auditioning for Margot- Anne's older sister. (Actually I was cast as Margot in another production a few years ago, but didn't end up playing the part due to a scheduling conflict.) And this time even at the callbacks, I thought, there is no WAY I am going to get this part! How can a 27 year old convincingly play a 13 year old. But I am so thankful that Michael Kelley (the director) saw that youthful spark in me.

What sort of things did you do to prepare for the role?

As a very sensitive child, I generally avoided any kinds of films or books about the Holocaust.So I never actually read the Diary until I was cast in the role. It surprised me. I was expecting it to be all doom and gloom, but I was immediately overwhelmed by Anne's love for life, her huge imagination, her connection to nature and her infectious sense of humour. And that is how I decided I would approach Anne. The diary is a real gateway into her soul.

So many actresses have played her on stage and on the screen. Did you watch any of their performances when you found out you were going to play Anne Frank?

No-I made a point not too. I wanted to create my own Anne.

What are some of the challenges of playing Anne Frank?

Anne Frank is an icon, not just of the Holocaust but of the last century. When her diary was first published many of the details of what happened during the war were still being uncovered. It sold millions of copies all over the world and has been translated into many languages. The diary is now required reading material in the public school curriculum. By all this I mean that the idea of playing Anne can be very overwhelming. It is a great responsibility-but one that I am trying not to focus on. What I hope to portray is not the icon, but a young girl between the crucial ages of 13 and 15, forced to live under extraordinary circumstances.

The Diary of Anne Frank is one of those plays that have been around for decades. Why do you think it's constantly in production around the world?

Partly, I think it is because it is a wonderful, extremely well written play. There is a reason that it won the Pulitzer Prize when it first premiered on Broadway in 1955. It is very well crafted. There is a constant tension between the light and the dark in this play.

What's next for you?

Top secret things! Ask me again in a few weeks and I can tell you all about it!

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