Musicals Have It Hard, Too

by Darius Kazemi on February 5, 2008

in media,politics

So on the way home from work I was listening to BBC World Service (gotta love XM), and there was a piece on about an Anne Frank musical opening in Spain. It’s causing some controversy, mostly because people perceive musicals as light entertainment, and that “a format meant to entertain is unacceptable and will stray from the brutal truth.” Sound familiar?

The whole thing seems ludicrous to me: a musical is pretty much theatre, dance, and music all put together. There are plays about the Holocaust, and nobody would argue that a play can’t have deep dramatic significance. There have been ballets about the Holocaust. There has been plenty of music written about the Holocaust, too. Each one of these art forms can be somber and reflective and thoughtful and respectful. And yet when they add up to make “musical,” people balk.

Sometimes I’m reminded that other mediums have these problems, too. And while Google tells me that there has been no serious attempt at an Anne Frank game, I get the feeling that if someone tried to make one, there’d be a hell of a lot more controversy than this musical is getting.


Patrick February 5, 2008 at 5:35 am

A game about hiding out in an attic could be really interesting, actually. Probably not much fun, but that’s not the point.

David McDonough February 11, 2008 at 4:29 pm

You know, I wonder if an Anne Frank game would be upsetting. There are certainly plenty of games that target WWII and Nazis as villains without any trouble, albeit from a “lighter” perspective. But the Anne Frank story is well known and widely regarded as being an inspirational tale, and an important one.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG was based on an event that was a horror story from every angle—there was nothing people could take from it that was positive. But if a game were made that was culturally and historically sensitive, that showed players what it was like to be Anne Frank and to endure the trials she faced, and if it succeeded in evoking deeper understanding of that story in the player, I would think that a game worth praising, and I would hope others would think so as well.

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