The following is an interview with Fernando Belo (director), Amanda Jane Shank (playwright), Nora King (producer), and Emily Mae Heller (producer), the creative team behind the one-act, Thirteen’s Spring, which premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this month in Los Angeles, CA. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Belo, Shank, and Heller about their inspiration for bringing Anne Frank’s story to the stage, their creative process in working together, The Moving Art Creative and its development of the show, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The play, Thirteen’s Spring, recently premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Group: This original piece, Thirteen’s Spring, by Amanda Jane Shank is an imaging of the final days of Anne Frank’s life before she and her family went into hiding in the summer of 1942. Loosely based on Anne’s earliest diary entries, this delicate coming-of-age piece explores the universal relationship between a father and daughter, parents, and the strength and sweetness of young love. The dangerous events surrounding the diary come to life through movement, text, and the powerful use of ensemble.
The play delves into Anne’s first few weeks before her 13th birthday and before she goes into hiding. She plays, interacts, and enjoys the company of her new friend, a young boy, Hello, mentioned briefly in her diary. Over the course of the show, their relationship and companionship grow and blossom. On the opposite side, Anne’s parents deal with the outside circumstances of the war all while trying to keep their family safe, ultimately going into hiding in the famous annex. Thirteen’s Spring explores through text and movement both the individual and family stories surrounding the Holocaust and the events during that time. The piece occurs in an atmosphere of nostalgia and in a way pays homage to the world events that affected generations of families.
BD: The production is part of The Moving Art Collective. What inspired the creation of this ensemble, and how would you describe its mission?
Group: The Moving Art Collective is a group of artists exploring the movement of an idea within different spaces, physical or otherwise, investigating the possibilities offered by text, movement, technology, visual arts, and traditional theater. An artist today can and should make use of the multitude of media at their disposal to achieve a richer work of art that reaches a broader audience.
Since the company was founded in 2011, we’ve performed our work in different countries, finding that many artistic works translate over, independent of nationality or cultural background. That’s the work we try to create with this company, art that can speak to as many people as possible.
BD: What can you tell us about the creators who brought Thirteen’s Spring to life, and how would you describe the creative process of the group?
Group: Thirteen’s Spring was created and developed through the collaboration of Fernando Belo (Director), Emily Mae Heller (Producer), and Amanda Jane Shank (Playwright) over three years ago at California Institute of the Arts. We were all attending graduate school studying different disciplines when we decided to develop a story around the Diary of Anne Frank, looking to take a well-known and powerful story and offer a new point of view that would cast a closer view into the Frank family.
Amanda Jane Shank: As we embarked on the project and we revisited Anne’s diary, what stood out were those initial few pages before she and her family go into hiding. It’s an incredible beginning to her story because when the diary opens, she’s just a normal teenage girl with a crush, finishing the school year, making plans for her summer vacation. In those first few pages, before she becomes the Anne Frank that has become so iconic, she could be any thirteen-year-old girl. It was this friction that we wanted to be able to capture in the script–the final ordinary moments in the life of a girl that went on to become so extraordinary.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
Group: The idea of creating this show came from the notion that each and every one of the lives affected by the Holocaust had their own dreams, fears, conflicts, relationships, and idiosyncrasies, and a lot of it disappeared or was lost due to the horrible events of the time and its aftermath.
We hope that audiences are touched and able to reflect on the individual lives of these victims. That people gain a better sense of the damage afflicted on these families, how events like this still happen around the world today, and how together we can find our shared humanity and compassion for others.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival the best venue for Thirteen’s Spring?
Group: The Hollywood Fringe is a great place to meet and collaborate with theater artists from Los Angeles, as well as all over the world. We thought this would be the perfect jumping-off point to showcase not only Thirteen’s Spring but also our other movement piece, Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival through June 25, 2016. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
Group: We are excited to see where Thirteen’s Spring will go after this. It is a very powerful show that could impact many communities especially young adults and educators. We are looking into possibly taking it on tour to schools, community organizations, cultural institutions, working with school districts, as well as other festivals around the country and the world. Our hope is to continue to reach out to audiences in order to create a positive change and impact on their lives.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
Group: The Moving Art Collective is also premiering Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka at the Hollywood Fringe which is a recreation of Kafka’s novella into a movement piece telling the story of Gregor Samsa, an overworked traveling salesman who one morning wakes from uneasy dreams to find he is transformed into a monstrous vermin. Gregor must now adjust to his new condition, as he deals with being burdensome to his parents and sister, who are repelled by the horrible creature he has become.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Thirteen’s Spring?
Group: Thirteen’s Spring will play for a limited time at the Actor’s Company – Let Live Theater (916 N Formosa Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046).
Featuring: Nora King, Michael Bates, Elena Sanz, and Joseph Tanner Paul
Friday, June 17th, at 10:00 pm
Saturday, June 18th, at 2:30 pm
Sunday, June 19th, at 4:00 pm
Saturday, June 25th, at 4:00 pm
Project & Ticket ($12) info: Hollywood Fringe Project Page
Metamorphosis will play for a limited time at the Actor’s Company – Other Space Theater.
Project & Ticket ($12) info: Hollywood Fringe Project Page
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