The following post was written by Bayley Wivell, a student at Mendon High School, and a participant in Geva’s Stage Door Project: The Diary of Anne Frank. Join us on Thursday, March 15th at 7:30pm on Geva’s Wilson Stage as the Mendon High School cast performs their version of The Diary of Anne Frank on the set of Geva’s own currently running production! Call for tickets to this special one-night-only event, or purchase them here.
To say I have enjoyed my experience with Geva’s Stage Door Project would be a gross understatement—it is one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had. My name is Bayley Wivell, and I have the pleasure of playing Margot Frank in Stage Door production of The Diary of Anne Frank. I also worked on publicity of the show, specifically through the creation of our show poster. I remember coming home after observing the first read-through of the show at Geva and telling my parents this was the “coolest thing I’ve ever done.” Little did I know, that was just a small glimpse into all the amazing opportunities to come. Since that first read-through, we have watched the show develop by attending weekly rehearsals; explored our characters through conversations with Steven Hess—a local Holocaust survivor; and connected with our counterparts during events like the cast-to-cast dinner.
Observing rehearsals was extremely eye-opening for me. We were having our own rehearsals at school, so it was interesting to watch the Geva cast struggle with some of the same questions we encountered. I was mostly awestruck by the fact that I was watching a professional show come to life. There was a high level of professionalism and dedication in the room each time we went, but they were also able to have fun. Being someone who is passionate about theatre, I enjoyed seeing how everything was put together, what kind of issues were considered, and the dynamics in the rehearsal hall. I watched as the actors became more comfortable with each other, and as the characters developed into who they are now.
All of our counterparts are talented, experienced artists who did not hesitate to welcome us into their process. It was amazing being able to learn from them and hear their insights. My counterpart—Devon Prokopek—is incredible. We’ve gotten to know each other briefly, but also talked a lot about our character Margot. I loved going to her with questions and hearing her take on specific lines or scenes, as well as getting some tips from her on what sort of business our character would do during downtime on stage. I’ve also had some educational conversations with other members of the cast, specifically Naama Potok and Steve Hendrickson, who play Edith and Otto Frank. I will carry the knowledge and advice I gained from these conversations beyond this production. They have taught me about not only these specific characters, but the entire process of putting on a production—I am grateful they are willing to share their wisdom.
There is so much I want to say about this entire process, this blog does not do it justice. Not only are we fortunate to be presented with these opportunities, but I am also learning and growing as a performer. I am asking myself deeper questions in an effort to discover my character’s motives, just like Skip Greer—Geva’s Director of Education—taught us at our first acting workshop. I am establishing some great relationships and making amazing memories. My experience with the Stage Door Project makes me so glad I have this passion for theatre. Being able to exercise my passion is the most amazing part of it all!