The Diary of Anne Frank, the play adapted from Anne Frank’s famous diary, made its theater debut in 1956. Since then, it has been reproduced countless times on stages across the country and abroad (the playscript, with extensive notes, is readily available from Dramatists Play Service). Collaborators Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, longtime Hollywood writers, had little experience with such a story as that of the Frank family. Previous scripts included sophisticated comedies such as The Thin Man or lively musicals such as Easter Parade. However, Goodrich and Hackett researched the play meticulously, drawing not only on Anne’s diary but also on the experience of visiting Otto Frank and the attic hideout. As Evelyn Ehrlich noted in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Hackett in 1956 said, ‘‘We all felt we were working for a cause, not just a play.’’
The Diary of Anne Frank was an immediate critical and popular success, with reviewers particularly enthusiastic about Anne’s spirit, optimism, and nobility. The play represented the pinnacle of Goodrich and Hackett’s career. However, over the years, criticism mounted against the play for inaccurately representing Anne’s own words as well as the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. Wendy Kesselman revised the script and mounted a production in 1997, but the commentary brought about by this new version of Anne’s life in hiding contributes to the reader’s understanding of the monumental task that faced Goodrich and Hackett in the 1950s, as they attempted to bring together the contradictory aspects of Anne Frank.
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