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St. Augustine theatre group feels 'urgency' to educate community with Anne Frank's story

Apex Theatre Studio's managing director says they felt an urgency to bring Anne Frank's story to communities and schools following antisemitic incidents.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — On Wednesday Jacksonville City Council members plan to file legislation to make it unlawful to project images over city property without approval.

This is in response to several antisemitic projections in the city over the last several months. Now those in the arts are working to educate and make sure the right story is told.

Apex Theatre Studio Managing Director Ian Mairs says they chose to do their production of the Diary of Anne Frank because they felt an urgency to bring the story to the community, especially to students, following the antisemitic incidents. The play is being performed in St. Augustine and Jacksonville and in several local schools.

Eva Gassert plays Anne Frank and Zach Szilagyi plays Peter van Pels. Gassert says their production hits audiences on an intimate level.

"It just makes everything all so real because you're really in this room with these eight people in an attic for two years," Gassert said.

Szilagyi says the play "educates people on a visual level." Gassert hopes the words of the 16-year-old in 1945 stay with audiences who come to see their performance.

"My favorite is really just when she says that in spite of everything that has happened to her, she really, truly believes that people are good at heart, in spite of everything," Gassert said. "I just think that's a wonderful message."

Catch their production at St. John’s Cathedral on East Church Street this weekend. Get tickets here.

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