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Keene State Events Focus on Anne Frank as Icon, Daughter, and Sister

Ronald Leopold
Ronald Leopold, Executive Director of the Ann Franke House, Amsterdam

Anne Frank, the teenage girl whose diary put a human face on Holocaust victims for generations of readers, is at the center of a series of events planned at Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center and Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in late October. Had she survived, Frank would have turned 90 years old this year.

“The legacy of Anne Frank and her family reminds us of the horrors of the Holocaust and the capacity of individual people to resist tyranny and authoritarianism,” said Celia Rabinowitz, interim co-director of the Cohen Center. “Anne’s father, Otto Frank, wanted the memory of his family to do more than that. He wanted us to learn from that legacy, to commit ourselves to resisting hate, and to opposing discrimination and prejudice.”

Roger Guenveur Smith: Otto Frank, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Stage and screen actor Roger Guenveur Smith returns to the Redfern Center for the Arts on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. with a new solo performance piece exploring the story and legacy of Otto Frank. Inspired by research initiated at Keene State, the performance is presented as a part of the Sidore Lecture Series.

Smith, known for Do the Right Thing, The Birth of a Nation, and Rodney King, blends the historical and performative in a piece about the man who survives the Holocaust and chooses to share his family’s experiences and memories through his daughter’s famous diary.

Smith was inspired by the story of Otto Frank after visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. As a steward of his daughter’s legacy, Frank navigated loss, adolescent ambition, and the criticism of those who questioned his motivations, the authenticity of the diary, and even the Holocaust itself. Otto Frank was created in collaboration with sound designer and singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson.

“The journey of Otto Frank coming to Keene began over a dinner conversation in February 2016. Roger had just performed his solo piece Rodney King at the Redfern, and he mentioned to me that he was interested in creating a piece on Otto Frank,” said Shannon Mayers, director of the Redfern. “I knew this could be a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the Cohen Center and the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Department, and I told Roger when he was ready to create the piece he should come back to Keene State and do research with us.”

The one-person show is the result of that research; the Oct. 17 performance will be its first public presentation.

A Conversation with Roger Guenveur Smith, Oct. 18, noon

On Friday, Oct. 18 at noon, Roger Guenveur Smith will join Professor Dana Smith’s class, Art and the Holocaust, for a conversation about his interest in Otto Frank and the process of creating the performance. The class will be held in the Susan J. Herman Room on the first floor of the Cohen Center. Members of the college and local community are welcome to join the conversation, which will be facilitated by Celia Rabinowitz.

Cohen Center Dedication, Oct. 20, 2-4 p.m.

The new Cohen Center and Holocaust and Genocide Studies Department spaces will be dedicated October 20 from 2-4 p.m. The event will feature several speakers, two mini-lectures, and an exhibit from a recent acquisition of images taken by an official photographer at the Nuremberg trials. The Cohen Center is adjacent to the Mason Library on the Keene State campus. This event is free and open to the public.

Annual Holocaust Memorial Lecture, Oct. 21, 7 p.m.

The Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies hosts Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, on Oct. 21 at 7. p.m. Leopold’s talk is entitled “Is the Past a Foreign Country? Holocaust Memory and Education in the 21st Century” and takes place in the Mabel Brown Room of the Young Student Center at Keene State.

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