After a pair of apparent Holocaust deniers handed out pamphlets Friday night, Medford Center will bolster security for the remainder of a community theater production on "The Diary of Anne Frank."
About five minutes prior to the 7:30 p.m. curtain call, two men stood directly outside Collaborative Theatre Project's front door handing out "Anne Frank's Diary Hoax Exposed" pamphlets — claiming that Frank's famed diary "could not have been written before 1951," according to theater board member and resident stage manager Dinah Greenfield, who fished one of several pamphlets given to patrons from the trash.
The theater contacted police and Medford Center's private security service, Concierge Home and Business Watch, after the two men stood at either side of the front entrance and refused to leave, Greenfield said.
Production director Susan Aversa-Orrego said she respects people's free-speech rights on public grounds, saying she "wouldn't like it" but she'd understand had they gathered on a sidewalk or at Hawthorne Park. However, the theater entrance — within the courtyard between the Cold Stone Creamery and Cinemark Tinseltown — is private property.
Aversa-Orrego called it "upsetting" and "unnerving" to see the pamphleteers standing in front of the show's poster, taking an aggressive stance.
"They just told me I had no right" to turn them away, Aversa-Orrego said.
Aversa-Orrego said that the pamphleteers' presence can be particularly jarring because the performance, about one of the most-discussed Jewish holocaust victims, is emotionally demanding.
"We're getting a lot of school kids who'll see this as well," Aversa-Orrego told security. The performance may not be suitable for children younger than 10 years old, according to the theater company's website.
Aversa-Orrego said she didn't ask for controversy with the production.
"It's only provocative if you don't believe in history," Aversa-Orrego said.
The performance, which opened March 2, will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays through March 25.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.