Anne Frank, the teenager who perished in a Nazi concentration camp but left behind a powerful legacy because of a diary she kept, is once again the inspiration for a conference at Buffalo State College this week.
The fourth annual Anne Frank Project - which brought about 4,500 people to the campus in 2011 for conference offerings - continues its message of tolerance amid social injustice under the theme "Embracing Responsibility" from Wednesday to Saturday. There will be more than 50 sessions featuring scholars and speakers from across the United States, as well as original music, theater and dance.
"We are all from a multitude of disciplines and points of view, and are coming together to take a whack at the ideas of intolerance, hatred, bullying, bias and genocide," said Drew Kahn, theater professor and director of the Anne Frank Project.
"What's most important to me is that all of the attendees - and most are college students - learn new tools and a new vocabulary to remove the idea of being a bystander."
The annual conference grew out of a reunion of cast members from Buffalo State's 2006 production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" for what would have been her 80th birthday. That production had drawn connections to the genocide that took place in Rwanda in the early 1990s.
"That experience confirmed that there is an Anne Frank in every genocide. There is some girl writing right now, saying, 'What is going on, what is happening to my life?' Right now in the Congo. In Syria. In Palestine. In countries we haven't even begun to know enough about," Kahn said.
The conference was seen as a way to reintroduce - and to universalize - the German and Dutch teen's experience, which was known from her diary published two years after she died from typhus, alongside her sister Margot, in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, at the end of World War II. It has included an emphasis on the arts.
Conference highlights this year include:
. "Courage to Act": 2009 Buffalo State grad Eve Everette, who played the starring role in the 2006 performance of "The Diary of Anne Frank," will present original poetry 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Warren Enters Theatre, Upton Hall.
. "When the Walls Comes Downs - Truth!": An original theater piece by Buffalo State theater students influenced by travels to Rwanda in visit genocide memorials, refugee camps, wildlife sancturaries and orphanages. The play premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Flexible Theatre, Donald Savage Building.
. Visual artist Harold Cohen will speak at 11 a.m. Friday in the Czurles-Nelson Gallery.
. "The Power of Forgiveness": A two-part presentation led by Catherine Mettille, a graduate of Buffalo State's graduate English program who created a Holocaust Quilt for the 50th anniversary remembrance of the Holocaust in Chicago.
The first part is at 3 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Warren Enters Theatre.
. "Kindred": An original play by theater student Cindy Delaney examines the effects of intolerance on three gay males and their families.
It will be followed by "Labels and Bullying," an experimental activity meant to provide insight into the effects of bullying.
The session will conclude with a presentation by the Rodemeyer family of Williamsville, whose son and brother, Jamey, committed suicide after years of bullying. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Warren Enters Theatre. The event is open to the public. For more information, go to http://m.core-apps.com/afproject2012.