Silvana is Anne Frank in a musical: ‘It is impossible to really empathize with her’

Silvana Rocha (22) from Eindhoven plays a special role in the new musical ‘Je Anne’. She is allowed to take on the leading role of Anne Frank and she does so with great care: “But I cannot really empathize with Anne. What she went through was so intense, it is impossible to completely empathize with what she went through.”

Unknowingly, Silvana auditioned for the special role: “During my training in Tilburg, I received a workshop from the director, Frank van Laecke. There we talked about the profession and worked on a song together. I sang and played for him there, but I didn’t know at the time that this was ultimately my audition for Anne Frank.”

Shortly afterwards she received a call from the director. “He said, ‘Clear your calendar, we’re going to get started.’ At first I didn’t really believe it, but the further the conversations progressed, the clearer it became that I could really play Anne Frank. Before I knew it, we were actually already rehearsing,” says the actress.

Empathizing with someone who has been gone for a long time is a difficult task. Silvana looked into it a lot: “I read her diary again and started collecting all of Anne’s character traits. This gave me the best possible picture of who she was. But I can’t really empathize with Anne. What she has what she experienced was so intense, it is impossible to fully empathize with what she went through.”

“Sometimes I fill up.”

In her research on Anne, Silvana discovered what kind of girl she was: “Anne was cheeky, cheerful and cheerful. But she was also very smart. She knew very well who she wanted to be, and tried to improve herself every day. If not succeeded, she was very disappointed. She was strict with herself.”

Silvana also recognizes the latter in herself, she says: “Anne wrote her diary during adolescence and I recognize myself in her enormously as an adolescent. I also felt that she was often disappointed with herself and set the bar high.”

The musical tries to tell the story of the Secret Annex as purely as possible. According to the leading actress, that is what makes the performance so unique: “Nothing about the story has been dramatized. We play on a Star of David with pieces missing, as if it had been bombed. Each point of the star represents a room from the Secret Annex.”

“It’s always a bit of a shock at the end of the performance.”

A performance with a heavy story, which sometimes brings emotions with it: “We all know that Anne Frank’s story does not end well. I think the ending is very beautifully presented. Of course you want to play it as sincerely as possible. Sometimes I am sometimes full. At the end of the performance we always have to swallow and we are silent for a moment. Surrendering completely to this story is quite intense.”

The musical is performed by a cast of only eight people, only the residents of the Secret Annex: the Frank family, the van Pels family and dentist Fritz Pfeiffer. Rocha is working there for the first time with big names such as Mariska van Kolck and Chris Tates, from whom she learns a lot: “It is very cool to see how often they talk to the director. He always listens. That is really nice.”

“It’s such an important story, you can’t ruin it.”

With such a big role comes nerves: “Sometimes it is scary, of course. I am the youngest in the group and then I also have such a large share in the story. It is such an important story “You can’t screw it up. You have to do it right,” says Silvana.

The first try-out was also exciting: “My boyfriend and father came to watch that day. After the performance, my father really hugged me like he had never done before. He said: ‘I am incredibly proud of you Silvana. really touched me, I almost feel too much pride!’,” she says, beaming.

A few more try-outs and then it’s time for the premiere, but she is most looking forward to the performance in Tilburg: “I studied there. I know that many acquaintances will come, former teachers, friends and classmates. That is exciting, but above all very fun. The program is also proud. They are still there for me. I recently went through material with a former teacher, so sweet!”

‘Je Anne’ will premiere on February 26 and will tour the country until the end of May.