Mrs. Van Daan role was emotionally challenging

The Magnet Tribune: Lizeth Gutierrez
Choir instructor Celia Hernandez portrayed Mrs. Van Daan in Diary of Anne Frank.

Lizeth Gutierrez, Staff Writer

Choir instructor Celia Hernandez said one of the challenges she had while playing the role of Mrs. Van Daan in the play was the set.

“When we started working with the set it was like learning everything again because the set was this amazing character,” Hernandez said.

She performed in “The Diary of Anne Frank” for Laredo Theatre Guild International in October.

She said another challenge would be her being able to express the emotions that she needed like anger, guilt, sorrow, fear, and most of these required her to get hysterical and cry.

Playing the role of Mrs. Van Daan was exciting and sometimes uncomfortable simply because there was no personal space you could really keep yourself in, in this play.”

— Celia Hernandez

“I had to emotionally allow myself to feel however my character felt,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said Mrs. Van Daan was a fun character and a blast to play.

“She is one of the characters that can actually manipulate a little bit,” Hernandez said.

She expected to be hated by most of the audience but mostly all ended up loving Mrs. Van Daan by what Hernandez was able to do with the character.

Hernandez said that her favorite thing about playing the role of Mrs. Van Daan was that she got to be able to be someone she’s really not like. For example she doesn’t care too much about her things and cares more about her family; meanwhile Mrs. Van Daan cares a little bit more about her things.

“It was my favorite thing because I got to be someone who I’m really not like,” she said.

Hernandez added that her least favorite thing about the play was having to cry so much. She had to cry four times a show for 11 days straight plus the rehearsals they had before.

“Mrs. Van Daan’s emotions were too strong,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez accepted the role because she had never been in a LTGI production. She had worked backstage on lights for the show “Thirty-Nine Steps” last fall and she had also done costumes for “Shrek” this past summer, but Hernandez had never been on stage for the company.

“I thought it would be a really good experience to work with this company and it was. It was very professional and as far an actor it made me feel like I had so much freedom in how I can act my part,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez talked about the challenges she had while playing the role of Mrs. Van Daan.

“Playing the role of Mrs. Van Daan was exciting and sometimes uncomfortable simply because there was no personal space you could really keep yourself in, in this play,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez was able to feel that husband and wife connection between her and Mr. Van Daan. She said it was easy because Jose Flores, who was playing the role of Mr. Van Daan, was her friend which made it easier to put her head on his shoulder or be there for him when he was in his time on need for the show.

“It didn’t feel awkward because that felt what my character would do,” Hernandez said.

It felt great to be on stage for this play, Hernandez said.

“I really liked being able to be somebody else,” Hernandez said.

“What we do in our classrooms (as) teachers is pretty much standing on stage and acting every day,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said It was “really accelerating to be on stage” regardless whether it’s a musical or not.

This role was the most emotionally challenging for Hernandez. Because her character took her from being the clown of the play to “oh my god we are super scared. The Natzis are going to come and get us.”

“I had to be ready to be her in every aspect of the word,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said she was able to talk to the women who run the Anne Frank House and get some more details about her character. Hernandez said that Mrs. Van Daan could probably have had the worst death of all of them because she was pushed from the train while on her way to the concentration camp.

“What I had to do as an actress was really keep the memory of this person, really honor that person the best I could knowing that in the end she had a horrible death,” she said.