Anne Frank Project brings history to SUNY Buffalo State through “power of words”


Shedenee Hewitt / The Record

Assistant Director Eve Everette in front of the project’s headquarters on Buffalo State’s campus, Donald Savage Theater Building

Shedeene Hewitt, Reporter

This year’s project uses Anne Frank and her world-renowned dairy as a basis upon which to show people the power of words.  Words have an ability to change someone’s outlook on life if that person allows for reflection. Each activity not only focuses on the tragedy of the Holocaust; it also instead gives way to different angles of a historical story.

Professors have mentioned promoting the project in order to get their students more involved and interested. Dr. Catherine G. Ansuini, a professor in the health/science department, assigns her students to attend at least one of the project’s shows and provide a feedback. “What is the biggest problem people make with critical thinking on a college campus environment? The assumption of knowledge. I have my students the entire schedule of what was to be expressed and presented in the Anne Frank project with a task,” said Ansuini. “Pick something out of everything you find interesting and go with 3 questions in mind: What is the person in front of me saying? How is it that they come to that answer? And finally, now that they have heard it, how do they, should they, and can they allow it to impact them?”

Broadway actor André De Shields performs “Fredrick Douglas: Mine Eyes have seen the Glory” a story about escape from slavery and new freedom.
Teagan Knowles / The Record
Broadway actor André De Shields performs “Fredrick Douglas: Mine Eyes have seen
the Glory” a story about escape from slavery and new freedom.

Assistant Direction of the Anne Frank Project Eve Everette has stated last year’s “Dear Me” was one of the performances with a high level of impact reaction. “It got young people to tell their stories. It was about a boy named Reggie, who lost his friend to suicide. They not only watched him go through the experience but learn from past soul of other conflicts that helped him,” she said.

She observed student’s empathy for stories brought out of ‘Dear Me’ and how they made the “physical switch” putting themselves in the character’s shoes.

“We saw people change within an hour and a half, a whole community would change and then through all the other stories that were shared there after,” said Everette. “We took a que from that and when it came to naming the conference, we got change through stories.”

This event stretches for a period of four days, from Sept. 8 through Sept. 11. Each day is filled with various workshops, speakers and theaters works surround not only the story of Anne Frank, but more the power of words. From “Story Telling for Joy and Justice”, which covers social justice issues and a way to use them to change your community for the better, to “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” a performance by André De Shields depict, “A story about brutality and deliverance.”

In relation to audience experience, Everette expresses she wants them to know that a change in life is possible. “They can use the tools and vocabulary that they learn here to step out the door and start doing it right away,” she said.

“Start in your backyard, start in your community. That’s what I hope to give.”

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