|Annie Schunior as Miep Gies brings news of the outside world to Anne (Amy Cassell)|
PHOTO by Brigid Blaschak
Annie Schunior caught the acting bug when she first got involved in community theater at age 13. At Churchill High School’s Creative and Performing Arts Program (CAPA), every role she played was “either a villain, self-absorbed diva, or person of very questionable morals,” including her favorite part, the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. But it wasn’t until she was cast as Miep Gies in The Diary of Anne Frank at the Farmington Players that she came to the following realization: sometimes the “true hero” of a story is the one who acts selflessly, outside the limelight, without ever getting recognition or attention for her deeds.
Annie didn’t even remember the role of Miep when she’s seen the play staged before, but now she understands how instrumental Miep’s anonymity was to the survival of those in the Annex. As Annie said, “I think it is very fitting Miep does not have a large role. I think she would have wanted her role to be very small because everything she did, she didn’t do for recognition. She did it to save lives. I can’t even imagine the pressure she must have been under trying to save the lives of eight others, all the while keeping it a secret for her own life and the life of her husband. I think that is a true hero -- someone who puts others before themselves when it seems hardest. If it weren’t for Miep, we wouldn’t have Anne’s diary (as the Nazis later raided the Secret Annex, but not before Miep stashed away the diary to give to Anne after the War). We wouldn’t have this play. We wouldn’t have this huge insight into the lives of Jews in hiding.”
Annie was 13 – the same age as Anne Frank – when she first ready The Diary of Anne Frank. She immediately felt connected to the WWII era story from “listening to my grandpa tell bits and pieces from his times in the Navy and his own personal experience with the Normandy invasion.” Even though WWII ended over 70 years ago, Annie thinks “people will be able to recognize our own modern world in Anne Frank’s 1940s Amsterdam. This was a travesty that should never have happened. And yet similar travesties are happening around the world today. I think it can show how much we still have to learn and yet in the midst of turmoil, hope and the human spirit are stronger than we give them credit for. We will all go through tough times in our lives, but Anne gives such a beautiful and innocent example of being a light in dark times.” During college, Annie studied in Austria for four months, an experience that was “life changing for me. I traveled to see some of WWII’s historical landmarks firsthand like Auschwitz in Poland, Vienna, the Eagle’s Nest, Salzburg and Munich, and parts of England, Italy and France.”
Although this show portrays tragic events, Annie says, “I feel very grateful for Miep and the rest of the staff’s sacrifice because it led us to this story, it led me to this show, and this show has helped me realize the need for people like Miep, the need for sacrifice and being there for others, stranger or not, no matter the cost.”
The Farmington Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers. The show includes 12 performances from February 12 – March 5. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at email@example.com or 248-553-2955.