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Playhouse to present ‘The Miracle Worker’

April 9, 2014
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Beacon of H.O.P.E.'s Pine Island Playhouse has announced its next play will be "The Miracle Worker."

The story is about a young Helen Keller, who was blind, deaf and mute since shortly after birth. Pitied and spoiled by her parents by the age of 6, Keller grows into a wild, angry, tantrum throwing child. That, plus her inability to communicate, or understand the world around her, has left her frustrated and violent. Her parents, unable to control her, decide that unless things improve she will be sent to an institution.

In a last act of desperation, Keller's parents seek help from the Perkins Institute, a school for the blind. The school sent them a "half-blind Yankee schoolgirl" named Anne Sullivan to tutor their daughter. The play centers around Sullivan's persistence and determination to break through Helen's walls of silence and darkness to teach her to communicate - this relationship alters the course of Keller's life.

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"I selected this play because 'The Miracle Worker' really fits the Beacon of H.O.P.E.'s mission about helping others excel," said Nicole Pichon, director. "And Anne Sullivan's commitment to improving Helen Keller's life is inspiring."

Keller was born in 1880 and published her autobiography in 1903 entitled, "The Story of My Life." Playwright William Gibson, who had read the autobiography as a boy, wrote the play in 1959 entitled "The Miracle Worker." In 1962 the movie "The Miracle Worker" was made starring Anne Bancroft as Sullivan and Patty Duke as Keller.

Rehearsal of the "breakfast scene" took place last week. This is a very critical scene to the play and is a battle of wills between Sullivan and Keller. On the day of Sullivan's arrival at the Keller household, Sullivan observes Keller eating dinner from family members plates with her hands.

Fact Box

If You Go:

Who: Beacon of H.O.P.E.'s

Pine Island Playhouse

What: "The Miracle Worker"

When: Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m.

Where: Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, 10360 Stringfellow Road.

Sullivan believes this offers an opportunity to instill discipline in young Keller. The next morning Sullivan uses breakfast to teach Keller to eat with a spoon but Keller is more than a little resistant. After Sullivan stops Helen's repeated attempts to eat with her hands a battle of wills ensues. Though the family insists Keller get her way, Sullivan kicks the family out of the room, locks the doors and struggles with Keller into the afternoon. When the scene is finished, both are exhausted but Keller has learned how to eat with a spoon a minor milestone but a breakthrough none the less.

Keller's transformation to world activist, prolific author and acquired international stardom consisted of thousands of these "minor" milestones.

Keller lived until 1968. When she died on June 2, the Times wrote: "Helen Keller, who overcame blindness, and deafness to become a symbol of the indomitable human spirit, died this afternoon in her home. She was 87 years old."

Rehearsals for the island production will run up until shortly before the play.

The Miracle Worker will be presented Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m., at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, 10360 Stringfellow Road.



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