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Anne Frank Project's mission still relevant as it celebrates 10th year

STAFF REPORTS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- By turning Holocaust victim Anne Frank’s story into an examination of the many injustices that continue to plague the world, Buffalo State theater professor Drew Kahn founded the Anne Frank Project (AFP) in 2008.

Ten years later, the social justice festival he directs is still as relevant, if not more so. With a mix of performance artists, poets, visual artists, musicians, activists, and students sharing their stories and encouraging audience participation, AFP focuses on conflict-resolution, community-building, and healing.

This year’s “Repair the World: The Time Is Now!” is composed of 20 workshops and performances that take place October 2 and 3. Most of the 75-minute-long events will be held in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall or the Savage Theater and Communication Building's Flexible Theater. Additionally, AFP art exhibits will be on view in Upton Hall. All events are free and open to the public.

The genesis for AFP was a 2006 campus production of The Diary of Anne Frank that featured a Rwandan girl mirroring the Holocaust victim’s life. Kahn realized they were onto something when students didn’t want to leave the theater at the conclusion of the production.

“We realized that they needed to keep telling difficult stories and the festival just blossomed from there,” Kahn said.

AFP has since expanded into a two-day festival that draws thousands to campus each fall, along with ongoing drama-based workshops in the Buffalo Public Schools and a college-sponsored trip to Rwanda each summer in which students train teachers in the drama-based education model.

Eve Everette, ’09, who played the starring role in The Diary of Anne Frank in 2006, took the reins as assistant director of AFP in 2013.

“One of the great things about AFP is it allows for and encourages students to take multiple leadership roles,” Everette said. “We have witnessed students grow as they’ve helped plan and execute the festival events. Some of the students who were involved in earlier conferences have returned, asking to be involved.”

Each year the themes focus around some element of righting injustices. Kahn noted that the young Anne Frank dreamed of a world where “tikkum olam” (repair the world) was not just spoken, but practiced. That inspired this year’s theme.

“We want to always be reflective of what’s happening on campus and in the world and actively work on solutions,” Kahn said. “AFP highlights what’s best about Buffalo State. A lot of what the Anne Frank Project teaches aligns with the college’s values and mission.”

One of the signature events this year is “Sophia’s Legacy Project,” which will be held on October 2 at 1:45 p.m. in the Social Hall. The multimedia project celebrates the life of Sophia Veffer, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor who laid the foundation for AFP. She has participated in every festival since its inception, sharing her powerful story of survival and healing. Other key events include:

The Space Between: Student-directed, written, and produced play focusing on a misunderstood and bullied teenager on October 2 at 10:00 a.m. in the Flexible Theater. The performance will be followed by an interactive workshop.

Inquire Within: TheatreFigüre: Local artist Michele Costa will combine puppets, paintings, masks, and movement into personal stories that inspire healing on October 2 at 11:30 a.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall

Remarkable Rwanda Stories: Participants from AFP’s fifth delegation to Rwanda will share their stories on October 3 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Social Hall. Each presentation will be followed by short interactive workshops, using AFP’s story-based education practices.

View the full events schedule HERE and register online.