ANNE_283X1931I ride the bus downtown to see “The Diary of Anne Frank” at Pittsburgh Public Theater, and read through my news feed to pass the time. Rapper, Azealia Banks is calling homosexuals the ‘gay KKK,’ while dropping the word ‘faggot’ like its no big deal; Nick Jonas is being accused of queer baiting for romping around shirtless in the new TV show ‘Scream Queens’; and most of the LGBTQ community is aghast because the Pope allegedly held a secret meeting with Kim Davis, the county clerk defying the US Supreme Court by refusing the issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “Outrage, Betrayal, Discrimination,” they scream. The inability to get a marriage license is seen by some as the most egregious affront to their dignity that they have ever experienced.

I walk into an almost empty theater, which seems strange for the time. I’m not that early. But as it gets close to curtain the seats fill, though everyone seems more quiet than usual. As I’ve come to expect, the PPT set is beautiful in its layout with masterful lighting, although I confess to paying almost no attention to it once the play began. The acting is just too good, and the interactions so captivating, the set fades away from one’s focus. Well most of the set at least. The door we never see, is front and center and it has a presence, just as powerful as any human member of the cast. The door is every bit as critical as any cast member.

This is, I think, the third season for me to write about the shows at PPT, and this cast, perhaps better than any other, captures the tenor of the story and exploits it, taking the audience on a masterful journey, from tension, to fear, to elation, and through them all again. Every actor arose to the occasion, being part of a powerful ensemble where everyone’s performance is strong. This is a must see show, for the quality of the acting, the quality of the production, as well as the riveting evocative story.

It isn’t news, that many queer people were arrested, placed in camps and exterminated alongside the Jews during the holocaust. I had expected that my take on the play would revolve around that reality, but after seeing the show, I’m not sure what to say regarding it. Perhaps, that the devastation to individual’s lives doesn’t depend upon the particulars by which those individuals are othered. When we are targeted by those in power, there is no place to hide who we are, and that reality is terrifying.

Anne suggests that “humanity is going through a phase,” and the real question for me is this: is humanity through with this phase or still stuck in it? Europe is in the midst of the largest migration of people since the end of the second world war. Immigration is equated with invasion, and fear of the other is as motivating a force as ever. Here in the US a 2016 presidential candidate wants all “ gays rounded up and put in concentration camps. I don’t think we are through the phase yet.

The Diary of Anne Frank is a must see production for everyone. As a society, we need to be having discussions about the myriad topics this play raises. It may be the way, humanity finally moves into a new phase.

Tickets and info: http://www.ppt.org/shows/view/91

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