Dunhurst pupils perform for playwright
Bedales Prep, Dunhurst welcomed a special guest on 24 January when playwright Bernard Kops attended the school’s production of his award-winning play, Dreams of Anne Frank.
Pupils in Blocks 1 and 2 (Years 7 and 8) gave two performances of Bernard’s 1992 play about the story of the young Jewish girl forced into hiding in Amsterdam during World War II as Nazi Germany extended their grip over mainland Europe.
Having been performed across the globe in the three decades since it was first written, Dunhurst’s Head of Drama, Simon Kingsley-Pallant, was delighted when Bernard, now 93 and himself the son of Dutch Jewish immigrants, accepted the invitation to visit Dunhurst to see the school’s take on the play for himself.
True to Bernard’s writing, Dunhurst pupils used skills in acting, movement and song to re-imagine Anne Frank’s world. In a unique twist, the school’s production saw four separate groups of actors sequentially take on the roles of the main characters who hid together in the ‘Secret Annex’.
Bernard’s play is a particularly fitting choice for this year’s production as 27 January 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp in Poland where 1.1 million people were murdered by the Nazis.
Simon Kingsley-Pallant commented: “Anne Frank would be celebrating her 91st birthday this year. Even though she forever remains a teenager, her diary has endured. Her chronicle of growing up, family life and her observations of the terrible events unfolding around her is a powerful legacy. Bernard Kops’ award-winning play is a brilliant distillation of Anne’s life and of her time in the Secret Annex, and his writing captured the imagination of the cast.”
Head of Dunhurst Colin Baty added: “The children worked extremely hard across all aspects of production – from acting, dance and music, to set design and costume – to put on two moving performances of Bernard Kops’ play. To be able to perform in front of the playwright himself was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The children should feel proud of all they have achieved.”
See photos from the performance here.