An Interview with Marion Bretagne
THE MUMBLE : Hello Marion, so Anne Frank is coming up soon at the Bedlam Theatre, how is it going?
MARION :It’s going very very well as a matter of fact, a week before the show and the actors know their lines, we’re already doing full runs, have all the props ready and are selling really well. For a first show as a director, I am blessed! I like to think that my background of producer has helped the organisation, but also I am working with a very hard-working bunch.
THE MUMBLE : How well does Wendy Kesselman’s script bring out the original book.
MARION : There was a lot of criticism with the first version of the play written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. I did read it, and thought something was odd. I remembered The Diary of Anne Frank as being a piece of literature that was all about the hope, the everyday, the fights, the fear but the first version tended to be a ‘feel-good’ sort of play which is odd. Wendy Kesselman has brought back the Jewish components and seriousness this subject needs. Yet it respects the tone of Anne Frank. It is a very emotional play, not only because it has a tragic end, it is emotional because it will make the audience go through all the range of possible emotions in 1h45 min, following the2 years of the inhabitants; Sometimes it’s really funny, because Anne, who was a very funny, very energetic girl, made a joke, and then it can before fearful, and then sad. It is a play about the Holocaust, but also a play about family, about growing up, about living in extreme conditions, about human feelings. Some might find that this script is still ‘not sad enough’, but Otto Frank approved it and he’s the supreme authority in that regard.
THE MUMBLE : How difficult has it been to recreate the secret annex on stage
MARION : Not so difficult/ We went to Amsterdam to visit the house of Anne Frank during Christmas. The set is obviously not an exact replica of the annex and we’re doing with what we can and our budget but the set and stage managers Neb and Kitty are absolute stars! I can’t wait to see it.
THE MUMBLE : Can you tell us about your cast for the play, & how they are blending together
MARION :This cast is incredible. Each of them is just perfect for the role. The characters all have very different personalities, which makes living together really difficult.
THE MUMBLE : As people, everyone really gets along, and rehearsals are really nice.
MARION : As character, it really feels like everyone has their own personality. we worked a lot on character development, using passages from the diary, and improvising from that. I had a chat with each actor to talk about their character, they made research on the background. The characters all very complex and human. It’s pretty incredible to see how far we’ve gone, in terms of becoming the characters since the first rehearsal.
THE MUMBLE : What do you expect the audience member to be thing about, ruminating on, as they leave the theatre.
MARION : The most important, I hope they’ll remember that the Holocaust is more than a big name for a horrible historical event, and that the death of Jews is so much more than a figure. I hope they’ll remember it’s about real people. Obviously I am expecting them to be sad. But I hope, they’ll understand that the joyful moments in the play are here to remind them that the victims of the Holocaust are real people who also had fun in their lives. Sadly, the play is still very relevant, and O hope that it will make people think: refugees are more than refugees, there are individuals, same with victims of the Syrian War and so many other places. Maybe the media tends to presents facts, and forgets to remember the lives of these people and their feelings. Hopefully this play reclaims the humanity of the victims of history.
THE MUMBLE : Could children enjoy your production
MARION : One of my main aim for this production was to have children to come because it is such a good educational piece but honestly I have found it harder than planned to market toward schools and younger children. There is no violence at all on stage and most of the play is every day life in hiding, but still there are a couple scenes that are emotionally quite intense. Then, with BOB, we were quite surprised to see very young children in the audience – I don’t think they could understand everything but seemed to enjoy it, and that was way more bold and adult. I think children will really enjoy it and that will be an amazing educational entertainment as well, but would keep in mind that some scenes are not easy.
THE MUMBLE : What does 20176 have in store for Marion Bretagne
MARION :I am afraid this is as far I as know, my last theatre production. I am moving to Porto in May after I graduate to work in a Design Agency. I hoping that maybe when the time comes, I can do some theatre in English in some European cities after my day job but for now, no big plans theatre-wise.