Eve Everette,’09, who played the starring role in The Diary of Anne Frank in 2006 and traveled to Rwanda with the Anne Frank Project (AFP) in 2012, has come full circle. In July, following a national search, Everette stepped into the new role of assistant director and coordinator of the AFP. The campuswide conference returns to SUNY Buffalo State for its fifth year, September 11–13, with the theme “Transforming Lives.”
Everette has been working with Drew Kahn, AFP founder and director, to plan and oversee the conference that explores deep-seated problems like racism, intolerance, and genocide through storytelling. They’re offering a new component this year, the AFP Youth Conference on Tuesday, September 10. They have invited 250 Buffalo high school social students and their teachers to attend. Afterward, Everette will continue to spread Anne Frank’s transformative message to young people through AFP in the Schools in which theater students develop educational stories for Buffalo schoolchildren.
A Hamburg native, Everett attended Buffalo State as an honors student with a talent for art and illustration. However, she discovered theater as a freshman and never looked back. After graduating with a dual degree in theater and art history, she worked as a facilitator with the National Federal for Just Communities and as an employee trainer and specialist for Apple. She said she relied on her theater education for both positions. After earning a master’s degree in classical and contemporary text for acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Everette taught in the Theater Department.
What do your responsibilities as AFP assistant director entail?
It’s like stage managing six plays at once. I work with the AFP committee to choose the 50 presentations that make up the conference and ensure it’s all running smoothly—from securing the keynote speakers to ordering the food.
What is your favorite part?
AFP is a really a campus project. It’s unabashedly about inviting faculty, staff, alumni, and community members across academic disciplines to be involved—when they are ready. I like making connections between people or just helping people make friends with one another.
You played Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank that had a parallel focus on the Rwandan genocide. How did that experience affect you?
It affected me enormously. We held talkbacks with high school audiences, and I remember one student telling us that she couldn’t have truly grasped the lessons of the Rwandan genocide out of a book the way she could seeing the characters on stage. I knew this was something we had to continue to do.
What do you hope to achieve with AFP over the next year? The next five years?
Over the next year, I hope to build a stronger relationship between the AFP and the campus. This conference is most effective when we have a variety of experts relating their work to the conference theme and its connection to social justice. Over the next five years, I plan on making more connections with the Buffalo community. It makes sense to have our local community present during the conference because students can take their enthusiasm for change and put it to work.
What do you want people unfamiliar with AFP to know?
Come prepared to participate. This is a doing conference that aims to teach people new skills and vocabulary to examine social justice issues and help them find ways to improve their world. There will be workshops, art exhibits, plays, concerts, poetry, and presentations that ask for people to write, create, dance, ask questions, and speak their mind. I would tell people to attend sessions they would normally avoid. That person is guaranteed to experience a transformation whether it’s learning a new skill that helps them cope with conflict or gaining self-confidence from trying something new. I will say this specifically to students: This conference will not bore you. You will either be emotionally, intellectually, or physically engaged––perhaps all three.
You describe yourself as an adventurer. How is coordinating AFP an adventure for you?
I treat this conference like a giant devised theater production, which is always an adventure because each day is different. It’s my job to make sure students, faculty, staff, presenters, and conference-goers get what they came for: education, inspiration, and the drive to do something. I hope people walk away feeling changed, as if they just left the theater after watching a very transformative performance.