SYLACAUGA, Ala. – The story of Helen Keller is well known throughout the State of Alabama. Her likeness is on the Alabama state quarter and she is the focal point of many history lessons taught in school. But Annie Sullivan, a key figure in Keller’s life and an integral piece of her success, is often over looked.
To help tell Sullivan’s story of patience, perseverance, and persistence, the Sylacauga Community Playhouse will present ‘The Miracle Worker’. According to the SCP website, “The Miracle Worker dramatizes the volatile relationship between the lonely teacher and her charge. Trapped in a secret, silent world, unable to communicate, Helen is violent, spoiled, almost sub-human and treated by her family as such. Only Annie realizes there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark, tortured silence.”
“This story is not about Helen Keller,” explained play director Dan Nixon. “It is about the teacher who unlocked her purpose.” Nixon said Keller was born to do something special, but she was locked inside of a prison because of her deafness and blindness. That was all before Sullivan came along. According to Nixon, Sullivan was the only person who had the key unlock Keller’s gifts and eventually showed Keller she had an outlet to communicate through sign language.
This is not a play that comes together spontaneously. Hundreds of hours of rehearsals will take place before the first performance, but this play started even before auditions for roles in late November 2016. Nixon said for the play to have its full effect, which he believes will be an everlasting connection with audience members, countless hours of research, studying, and thought were put into producing the play.
The performance will feature flashbacks into Sullivan’s past which show why she had a soft spot her in soul for Keller. As a child Sullivan was blind and was severely mistreated by locked in a cage according to Nixon. Later in life Sullivan overcame her obstacles through multiples leading her to be such a compassionate person towards Keller.
The SCP worked with Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB) throughout preparation for the play. The 40 cast members and over 20 production members were taught how to communicate through sign language by AIDB students. Participants in the play were also given the opportunity to wear glasses that blurred vision to give them a first hand idea of what being blind would be like. Nixon said he was very excited to work alongside AIDB and believes the school played an integral part in the process leading up to live performances.
The Miracle Worker is meant to be an inspiration to everyone who watches. Nixon wants to inspire people to not only discover their purpose, like Sullivan and Keller both do as the play progresses, but also pursue their purpose with “everything they have inside of them.”
The play features many people, both children and adults, from the Sylacauga community. The cast is as following:
- Annie – Cheryl Livingston
- Helen – Sydney Harris & Bradyn White
- Kate – April Sargent
- Captain Keller – Scott Smith
- James – Tyler Jacobs
- Aunt Ev – Jodi Courington
- Anagnos – James Haskins
- Doctor – Billy Gallops
- Viney – Meagon Williams
- Martha – Iman Abdur-Rahim & Lauren Seaborn
- Percy – McKenna Glarvey & Charisma Tuck
- Farm Hand/ Violinist – Claude Williams
- Jimmie Sullivan – Landon Crocker
- Man’s Voice – Zach Tarwater
- Crone 1 – Lisa McGalliard
- Crone 2 – Seth Johnson
- Crone 3 – Rebecca Johnson
- House Mother of the Institute – Christy Smith
- Students at the Perkins School of the Blind: Cadie Taunton, Emma-Clarie McGrady, Joseph McDonald, Thomas Deale, Meagan Smith, Emilee Messer, Alexis Deale and Jake Skinner
Dates and times for The Miracle Worker are as follows:
- Friday, April 21 6:30 p.m.
- Saturday, April 22 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- Sunday, April 23 2:00 p.m.
- Friday, April 28 6:30 p.m.
- Saturday, April 29 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- Sunday, April 30 2:00 p.m.
All 2:00 p.m. show times will be equipped with a sign language interpreter, and all shows will be in the Comer Auditorium in Sylacauga. Tickets can be found at the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce or the Sylacauga Community Playhouse website, but can also be purchased at the door at higher prices.
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.