Last year, David Ira Goldstein retired as artistic director of Arizona Theatre Company after 25 years of breathing life into 190 main-stage plays, workshops and presentations in Phoenix and Tucson. It seems he couldn't stay away for long: Goldstein is returning to direct The Diary of Anne Frank, now through May 12 in Tucson at Temple of Music and Art; and May 17-June 3 at Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. PHOENIX magazine recently caught up with Goldstein to ask him what he's been up to in pseudo-retirement and how he prepared for his latest production.
(Editor's note: Answers have been edited for clarity.)
PHOENIX magazine: What have you been doing post Arizona Theatre Co.?
David Ira Goldstein: I haven’t spent half my life traveling on the I-10 back and forth to Tucson [for starters]. Michelle and I have been married for 23 years, but we figure it’s really only 11 and a half because I spent half the time in Tucson. I’ve also had time to submerge myself in the projects I’m working on. Last fall I spent several days in Amsterdam visiting the Anne Frank house and other Holocaust sites to do research for this production. It was an eye-opening and an important time for me.
PM: Did going to Amsterdam influence how you directed the production?
DIG: It really informed the physical reality of what it was like for those eight people to be in the secret annex for two years. I also think having Holocaust survivors work so closely with us in the rehearsals really helped us both explore the tragedy of the situation, but also the hope that there is life after.
PM: Why is The Diary of Anne Frank relevant today?
DIG: The thing that always makes Anne Frank relevant is that it’s true. We’ve been reading how anti-Semitic incidents were up threefold in Arizona last year. It’s important especially for young people to see this story because it happened, it’s not fiction and it serves as a stark warning of why we must always be vigilant against racism and xenophobia.
PM: Why should people see the play?
DIG: The play was rewritten in 1998 for the Broadway production with Natalie Portman, so even people who think they know the story of Anne Frank or saw the film in the 1950s, it’s not the complete story. It’s an important story to remind us of the consequences of not keeping our eye on the ball.
PM: What’s next for you?
DIG: I can’t say too much about it, but I’m working on a project with Taliesin West and some other things… I’m eager to do a project about the founding of Israel and the next chapter of that story. I’ve got my feelers out... We’ll see. I’ve pitched it to a few people.
For more information about The Diary of Anne Frank and to purchase tickets, visit arizonatheatre.org.
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