Elle Shaheen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just eight years old. Similar to others with diabetes, Shaheen’s diagnosis came unexpectedly and with added difficulty because of her young age. However, as a determined spirit Shaheen refused to let having diabetes dictate her life, especially not the passion for acting she developed at just five years old. Her diagnosis has not changed her hunger for performing on the stage.
“I’ve always loved it and I don’t really know anything different. It’s a way for me to express myself. I love stepping into another person’s shoes and becoming different people,” said Shaheen, now 14.
Shaheen will be combining her desire to help others with diabetes and her love for acting by taking on the role of Anne in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank. After the cost of production, a percentage of ticket sales and additional contributions will be donated to the Joslin Diabetes Center.
Shaheen was first introduced to Anne Frank and her story when she was approximately ten years old and has admired her courage and bravery ever since. Since then, she has dreamed of playing Anne Frank on stage. Through Shaheen’s hard work and dedication, taking on Anne’s role in this production at the Seacoast Repertory Theater is finally becoming a reality.
“She’s always been my hero because she didn’t let the fact that she was in hiding keep her from pursuing her dreams.” said Shaheen.
Shaheen is co-producing The Diary of Anne Frank with the Seacoast Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director, Craig Faulkner. This arduous job means that the duo will be producing everything needed for the show including casting and set design, from the ground up. Even before ticket sales Shaheen has met her initial fundraising goal of $20,000. After the cost of production, a percentage of the earnings will be donated to the Joslin Diabetes Center.
“Joslin has always been there for me and they have always taught me so much. I thought it was very important to give back,” said Shaheen.
After living with diabetes for six years, Shaheen knows firsthand how difficult the disease can be at times. However, despite being difficult in nature, Shaheen won’t stop fighting against diabetes.
“The biggest thing for me was that I didn’t want to be known as ‘the girl with diabetes’. You can’t let it win, you have to fight and you have to especially take care of yourself,” she said.
The show will open on May 28 at 7:30 p.m., and will run on May 29 at 7:30pm and May 30th at 8:00pm. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.seacoastrep.org/.
Additional donations can be made out to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, noted to Elle Shaheen and mailed to 77 South Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801.