J*Company Youth Theatre premiere explores the girl who was Anne Frank
“Goodbye Memories,” an original play by San Diego playwright Anita Yellin Simons will premiere with J*Company Youth Theatre, Jan. 21-23 at the Jewish Community Center’s Garfield Theatre in La Jolla. The production is collaboration with the San Diego Jewish Academy and will be directed by Emily Calabrese.
The new play sheds new light on Anne Frank, taking facts and stories from “Anne Frank’s Diary” to show her life before she and her family went into hiding as World War II unfolded.
The cast includes Rebecca Penner, Daniel Myers, Hannah Rodriguez, Michelle Guefen, Lily Greenberg, Gabriela Lipson, Gabriella Burkholz, Rachel Rozenfeld, Eli Rubenstein and Sydney Rae Posnock.
“The moment I read this beautiful piece I knew J*Company had to produce it,” said its artistic director Joey Landwehr. “It’s important for young people not only to learn the facts about this important historical character, but to be able to relate to the real young person within the historical figure. This girl suffered the same ups and downs while growing up that they are now experiencing.
“This play helps Anne Frank pop out of the black and white pictures in the history books and show herself as a live girl in vivid color. And, as always, J*Company reaches out to find works that not only help these children grow as artists but also as young men and women.”
Simons grew up in Canton, Ohio and attended Ithaca College, Ohio State University and UCLA. She lives in La Jolla with her husband, is employed at La Jolla Playhouse, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
“Goodbye Memories,” her first play, won several awards including first place in the 2004 Playwriting Contest of Community Theatre Association of Michigan and semi-finalist in the 2007 Jackie White Memorial National Children’s Play Writing, and has had staged readings in San Diego, Hollywood and New York City.
In 2005, Simons joined writing forces with Lauren Simon and they collaborated on two plays. “Ladies First” was awarded honorable mention in the 2006 Peacewriting Awards presented by the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology, and was a finalist in the 2006 Trustus Playwriting Festival.
Their second collaboration, “Heartland,” won the 2008 Dayton Playhouse FutureFest Award of new works and had its first production at MiraCosta College in Oceanside in November 2008. “Heartland” took second place in the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award at the Kennedy Center.
Simons is currently working on several projects — a play about women and posttraumatic stress disorder in the military; her first musical; and a documentary about the internment of German-Americans during World War II.
If you go
What: “Goodbye Memories” premiere
When: 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Jan. 21; 8 p.m. Jan. 22; 1 p.m. Jan. 23
Where: Garfield Theater, Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla
Contact: sdcjc.org/jcompany (858) 362-1348.
Note: Anne Frank was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany and died in early March 1945 in Bergen Belsen.
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