Places Please: Prop Design – Creating the Diary
Ezra Campbell is the Prop Designer for The Diary of Anne Frank. Props are the items held or used by actors during a production. One of the most important props in the show is Anne’s diary, and we asked Ezra how he created this piece.
ACT: How did you begin your research on the look of the diary?
Ezra Campbell, Props Designer: Unsurprisingly, the diary was the first prop I really focused on in the early stages of the design. In this show, the diary is really a character unto itself. So, I knew that replicating such a historic artifact would be no simple task. I began my research by creating a collection of reference images of the inside and outside of the diary as well as individuals posing near the diary while it was on display. I then used these collective images to combine all the details to bring the diary to life onstage. The famous red and white checkered diary was not actually a diary, it was an autograph book that Anne picked out as her 13th birthday present prior to entering the secret annex. This diary was one of several diaries, notebooks, and even loose-leaf paper that Anne used to write in during her time in the secret annex. Those texts, all saved by Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl were later combined by Otto Frank into the manuscript (although the entirety of 1943 is missing) that became The Diary of a Young Girl.
ACT: How did you create the cover?
Ezra: Magic. Well, the next best thing – collaboration. The costume designer, Carina Lopez and I collaborated to create the diary. I found a company that would custom print a replica of the fabric on the cover of the diary. The base is a sketchbook that we then glued the fabric to and attached the buckle. Carina created the closure out of the remainder of the fabric. Using the images from the inside of the diary, we created several replica pages for Faith [the actress playing Anne] to use. These pages, including text from Anne’s original diary entries, are exactly matched and include copies of the photographs that Anne placed into her diary.
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