The Out-of-Door Middle and Upper School community attended a special presentation of the inspiring play “Letters From Anne & Martin,” in the Petrik Thunderdome this week.
The traveling show, part of Embracing Our Differences’ 2019 program, was brought to ODA by Honorary Co-Chairs Terri Vitale, and Sydney Sforzo ‘21 with support from the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, the Sarasota County Bar Association - Diversity & Inclusion Committee, the Boxer Diversity Initiative, and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Through this partnership, more than 4,500 students in Sarasota County were able to see this inspiring piece.
“Letters From Anne & Martin” is a dramatic reading of excerpts from Anne Frank’s diary, and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The two actors playing the roles of Anne and Martin alternated monologues, weaving the themes of prejudice, bigotry, racism, genocide, and violence, with their hopes for freedom and justice in a kinder, peaceful, more tolerant world. The poetic dialogue conveyed a sobering, powerful message to the attentive students. Their moving letters, though written years—and worlds—apart, spoke of the same ideals; embracing diversity, invoking change through non-violence, speaking up for what’s right, and accepting the differences of others.
After the performance, Alexandra Gellner of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, and the actors joined facilitator the Hon. Charles E. Williams for a Q&A session with the audience. Students were eager to speak with the panel, asking a wide variety of questions, from “How did portraying these well-known, historical icons personally affect you?” to “How do you think we can affect change in today’s racial injustices?” The panelists spoke candidly, taking time to thoughtfully consider and answer all of the questions posed.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are considered some of the most important, persuasive, and eloquently written documents about civil rights and anti-semitism ever written. It is impressive, yet regrettable, that their words are still relevant, and necessary, today. We would like to thank all of the organizations that came together in partnership to bring this important performance to Out-of-Door for all of our students, faculty, and staff to experience.