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Reflections on Singing Only Softly

It's a strange feeling when literature and history become reality. I first read the Diary of Anne Frank when I was a pre-teen, and I remember being struck by a sense of voyeuristic intrusion as I poured over this teenage girl’s innermost musings. Her diary was so like my own at that age - full of deeply imperfect thoughts and sentiments, far from ready to be shared. I saw her almost as a relatable fictional character, except for the shocking reality of her life I always struggled to understand. How could a person so like me, including in her secular Jewish identity, end up killed for who she was?

Visiting Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam, as well as re-reading her diary as an adult, lent a heartbreaking tangibility to my relationship with Anne. Actually seeing the little window that gave the two families the only light they had access to during their two years of hiding, or pictures of celebrities that Anne and Margot put on their walls, helped me mentally bring Anne and the other residents of the secret attic into reality, making their ends even more painful to grasp.

In this internet age, Anne Frank and other famous victims of atrocity and hate often become reduced to symbols of identity, memes, dark jokes, or hashtags. As I left the house, many tourists posed for selfies in front of the Anne Frank Huis sign, something also common at the sites of former concentration camps, which can seem to reduce the significance and humanity of visiting such places. Physically seeing the place where Anne Frank and her family hid, full of singular signs of personality and life, as well as reading her deeply personal diary, and uncovering new facets of her femininity through projects such as Loose Tea’s Singing Only Softly, helps me to bring Anne and her family into my reality; to see them as more than symbols of history and identity. I’m very grateful to Loose Tea Music Theatre and Musique 3 Femmes for creating this project, and I hope that my portrayal will help audiences see Anne as she was: a nuanced, imperfect and beautiful human worthy of life, like every other human who walks this earth.

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