MIAMI – Anne & Emmett, the latest theatrical production of The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre (AAPACT), is an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, both victims of racial intolerance and hatred.
Frank is the 13-year-old Jewish girl whose diary provided a griping perspective of the Jewish Holocaust. Till is the 14-year-old descendant of survivors of the African Holocaust, whose brutal murder in Mississippi helped spark the American Civil Rights Movement.
Directed by AAPACT’s Teddy Harrell Jr. and written by Janet Langhart Cohen, Anne & Emmett stars Shawn Burgess as Emmett Till and Zasha Shary as Anne Frank. The one-act play also features Kandace Crystal as Mamie Till, Sheldon Cohen as Otto Frank and Tommy O’Brien as J.W. Milam.
Performances will run April 17 through May 12 at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 N.W. 22nd Ave., Miami. The play in its South Florida premiere opens with the two teenagers meeting in Memory, a place that isolates them from the cruelty they experienced during their lifetime.
The beyond-the-grave encounter draws startling similarities between the youths’ harrowing experiences and the atrocities against their respective races.
Anne recounts hiding in a cramped attic with her family after German dictator Adolf Hitler ordered the Nazi military to round up Jews and put them in concentration camps en route to gas chambers, before she died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp in March 1945, a few weeks before British troops liberated the concentration camp.
Emmett tells Anne about how he, in 1955, ended up being brutally attacked by a group of racists and thrown in the Tallahatchie River with a cotton gin fan tied to his neck. This happened after he reportedly flirted with a white woman while visiting his uncle in Money, Miss.
Regular evening performances of Anne & Emmett are 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Matinees are Sundays at 3 p.m. Regular Admission is $20. Discount rates for groups of 10 or more begin at $15 per person.
To RSVP for seats call 305-456-0287 (leave a message); purchase tickets at AAPACT online, aapact.com; or email email@example.com. The box office opens an hour before show time and the house opens 15 minutes before show time. The running time for Anne & Emmett is 90 minutes; there is no intermission.
In addition AAPACT is offering:
Preview performances on Wednesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 18 at 8 p.m., admission $10. On Friday, April 19 is a Florida Humanities Council Special Talk Back Nite performance, with show time at 8 p.m. and admission $15. The Talk Back Nite performance is free to the first 50 individuals who RSVP their name, mailing address, email and phone number by calling 305-456-0287 and leaving a message. (Not Applicable to groups.)
On Saturday, April 20 is the Official Opening performance at 8 p.m., admission $25. Also, on Sunday, April 21 is an Arts Industry/Social Media Friends performance. Showtime is 3 p.m., admission $15. This performance is free to the first 25 individuals who RSVP their name, mailing address, email and phone number by calling 305-456-0287 and leaving a message. (Not Applicable to groups.)
Discount Rates for Groups of 10 or More beginning at $15 per person for all shows except the April 20 Official Opening Performance.
AAPACT is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit founded by Harrell in 1999 whose motto is “Building Better Communities Through Theatre.” All contributions are tax deductible to the company composed of local black actors, directors and stage technical professionals who work to enhance and promote cultural awareness and education through the performing arts for inner-city youth and theatergoers in Miami-Dade County and the surrounding community.
Harrell, who conceived AAPACT, produced its debut production, Athol Fugard’s The Island, in 2001. Harrell has since produced and directed many of the company’s productions including this year’s season opener, James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, and last season’s Jelly Belly, Fathers and Other Strangers and Dutchman.
As an actor Harrell has been featured in numerous productions in South Florida including AAPACT’s The Island, Sizwe Bansi is Dead and Zooman and the Sign.
Cohen, the playwright, is president of Langhart Communications and an Emmy-nominated journalist and author. A mentee of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she was active during the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout her career Cohen interviewed many prominent leaders of the 20th century including President Bill Clinton, who acknowledged her during his last State of the Union address. She has been a judge for the White House Fellows Program and for the Miss America Organization an unprecedented four times.
The wife of former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, she was known as “First Lady of the Pentagon” due to her active and visible public role to support the military and their families. Her play Anne and Emmett is currently in development to be a film.