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

Castlegar mayor releases FCM itinerary

Bruno Tassone delivers promised report on activities at Quebec City municipal conference

COLUMN: 1919 – Police chief reminds drivers of streetcar etiquette

Greg Scott takes us back to a century ago in the files of the Nelson Daily News

Nelson archers host meet

The Nelson Rod and Gun Club hosted 78 archers

Family Fishing Weekend marks 20th anniversary

Event planned at Cottonwood Lake on Sunday

Screen, song, and the power of words

Anne DeGrace on the delights of the upcoming Elephant Mountain Literary Festival

VIDEO: First Nations, developer call for return and protection of sacred B.C. burial site

Dozens of First Nations leaders gather on grassy plateau to call on action by provincial government

Teen stabbed after end-of-night limo dispute in downtown Vancouver

A young man, 19, is in serious condition following a dispute between two groups

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody 6 months after release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

Bears have killed 17 people in B.C. since 1986

Number of bear complaints and bears killed rose sharply during same period

Three Albertans land ‘monster’ sturgeon in B.C.’s Fraser River

For angler who landed the exceptionally large sturgeon it was an ‘incredible dream come true’

Most Read