Written by Rinne B. Groff
Directed by Johanna Gruenhut


Sid Silver is a man obsessed. When he learns about a young girl named Anne Frank and her diary, Silver makes it his mission to ensure her tale is heard. But is the manuscript a work of art? A cultural treasure? Or simply a valuable product? As he fights for the diary’s publication and the rights to adapt it into a play, Silver’s idealism turns to fanaticism, and his good intentions may prove to be his undoing. A fascinating, semi-fictional story about one forgotten writer’s battle for one extraordinary girl’s diary.

“Absorbing… a fascinating, multilayered tale.” —The New York Times

Socially-distanced seats are available–only through Patron Experience at (202) 777-3268–for the following dates:

Sunday, February 13 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, February 19 at 2:00 pm

Theater J dedicates this production to the memory of Ellen Brie Houseknecht, who served as our Lead Construction Associate for over 15 years before passing of natural causes in December 2021. She will be dearly missed. May her memory be a blessing.

Run Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes

Act One: 60 minutes
Intermission: 15 minutes
Act Two: 50 minutes

Paul Morella
Marcus Kyd
Kimberly Gilbert
Matt Acheson
Eirin Stevenson

Cast (In Order of Appearance)

Puppeteer – Matt Acheson

Puppeteer – Eirin Stevenson

Sid Silver – Paul Morella

Mr. Thomas, Mr. Harris, Mr. Ferris, Mr. Matzliach, Mr. Williams – Marcus Kyd

Miss Mermin, Mrs. Silver – Kimberly Gilbert


Artistic & Production Team

Director – Johanna Gruenhut

Puppet Design/Coaching – Matt Acheson

Set Design – Nephelie Andonyadis

Costume Design – Sarah Cubbage

Lighting Design – Jesse W. Belsky

Sound Design and Original Music – Sarah O’Halloran

Props Design – Pamela Weiner

Casting Director – Jenna Place

Dialect Coach – Tonya Beckman

Production Stage Manager – Anthony O. Bullock

Assistant Stage Manager – Allison Poms

Assistant Stage Manager/COVID-19 Safety Manager – Genevieve Dornemann

Production Angels

Sponsoring Angel
Kathryn Veal

Supporting Angel
Janet Leno and Peter Harrold
Jeff Menick
Alan and Irene Wurtzel

Beyond the Stage 

Theater J is dedicated to taking its dialogues beyond the stage, offering public discussion forums which explore the theatrical, cultural, and social elements of our art throughout the year. Below are the events planned during the run of Compulsion or The House Behind. All events are free and open to everyone. Guests and times subject to change.

Sunday, February 6, 2022, following the 2:00 PM performance

Attend an insider’s reflection on the creative process. Theater J artists from each production answer questions and offer insights about design, inspiration, rehearsal, and collaboration.

Sunday, February 13, following the 2:00 PM performance

Hear from experts on topics related to each production. With equal parts lecture and conversation, Theater J invites specialists in their fields—doctors, historians, theologians and activists—to delve deeper into the play’s history, cultural context, and themes.

Wednesday, February 16, following the 7:30 PM performance
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an actor or to perform on stage at Theater J? Well, here’s your chance! Join members of the cast to ask your burning questions about their artistic practice and the production.