Two Helen Kellers, Three Annie Sullivans

This weekend’s student production of The Miracle Worker celebrates historical pair.

This week’s production of The Miracle Worker features (front L-R) Hanah Willow and Morgan Beck as Helen Keller

Helen Keller may have been deaf and blind, but she was plenty of other things as well. Besides overcoming her communication difficulties, she also engaged in social activism and became a feminist icon for generations to come.

“Before I was cast as Helen Keller I only really knew about her vaguely,” said Morgan Beck, one of the student organizers behind the upcoming production of The Miracle Worker, directed by L.V. Rogers’ Robyn Sheppard.

“But now that I’ve done the research I’ve learned all these amazing things she was an activist for women’s rights and workers’ rights, she travelled to other countries raising awareness.”

That blows Beck away.

“Besides being an amazing example of perseverance she was also just a very cool person that we can all look up to.”

Miracle tells the story of Keller’s relationship with teacher Annie Sullivan. To maximize opportunities for students the roles have been divvied up, with Beck and Hanah Willow playing Keller alongside three Sullivans: Ingrid Love, Shanti Harris, and Emma Chart.

“It’s really strange, because I only have like one line,” said Willow. “So it’s a different kind of acting. I’m not waiting for what I’m going to say next, I’m more thinking about what the other people are going to do and say next.”

The role requires an extreme amount of concentration, and both Beck and Willow have to rely on their physicality to communicate Keller’s struggles.

“I don’t think it’s possible to imagine what it would be like to be deaf and blind,” said Beck. “I do think I have a better understanding, playing this, but really none of us can understand what Helen Keller went through.”

Meanwhile, the trio of Sullivans are busy bringing Keller’s teacher to life. Harris gained an appreciation, while reading the script, of her character’s fierce independence.

“I think of myself as a feminist and it’s awesome to play one from that time, seeing her strength and how she was not your typical woman. She was her own person and did what she believed in, which is amazing.”

Love agrees she’s been a long-time fan of Sullivan.

“This is a story I’ve grown up with. I’ve read so many books on Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan over the years, because I think they’re fascinating. Getting to play her is a chance to take what I know and use it.”

Chart was surprised to learn, while researching the play, that Sullivan was only 19 when she started her work with Keller. It put a whole new perspective on the story for her, especially because she’s only one year younger than that now.

“Another thing I learned was she had a really hard childhood, so she had to grow up early. She had never been able to be a child, really,” Chart said, expressing admiration for the progress the two made on a number of social fronts.

Chart encourages everyone to see the show more than once, because the multiple casting makes each performance different. Ultimately all the Annie Sullivans will star with all the Helen Kellers over the course of their six performances.

“I love that it’s about these two feminists in their time, these two women and their relationship with each other. It’s so special that we can do a play like that,” said Chart.

The Miracle Worker opens tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. It plays again Friday at 7:30 p.m., then Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

 

Just Posted

Kootenay fires grow — more evacuation alerts

Syringa fire prompts evacuation alerts plus HWY 3 closure and U.S. fire crosses into B.C.

Evacuation alert for Syringa and Deer Park

The Syringa Creek Fire grew Saturday resulting in evacuation alerts.

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Smoke scraps MS Bike Challenge

The annual fundraising event cancelled its cycling Saturday because of poor air quality

Bent On Art Festival gives Kootenay Pride a creative outlet

The festival runs Aug. 27 to Sept. 2 during Pride festivities

VIDEO: Auto repair shop celebrates Nelson mural festival

A painting by Barry Overn at Downtown Automotive turned heads at the festival opening.

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights can be misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Vancouver Whitecaps give up late goal in 2-2 draw with New York Red Bulls

Four of Vancouver’s next five games are at home

Most Read