This year’s spring theater performance is The Miracle Worker, a play by William Gibson based on Helen Keller’s autobiography The Story of My Life. The production comes to Walton Auditorium on May 17 and 18, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. Both shows are free and open to the public.
Helen, who would grow up to be a world-renowned educator, author, and humanitarian, lost her senses of sight and hearing from an illness as a baby. An unruly child, Helen would throw intense tantrums. Her life changed at seven years old when her parents hired a teacher, Annie Sullivan. Annie, like Helen, lost her vision at a young age, and was determined to teach Helen how to communicate.
Directed by Arts Department Head Mo West, the production considers the impact of language—and the absence of it—on identity. “The Miracle Worker explores Helen’s growing, inevitable detachment from the world, and increasing frustration and loss of identity at the developmental stages of her early childhood,” said Mo. “Without language, Helen didn’t know who she was. In short, she had no story—until her teacher Annie Sullivan entered to give her world definition.”
For Mo, The Miracle Worker fit perfectly into the theme of this year’s theater season, “strong women.” “Through determination and a strong commitment to actualize Helen through language, Annie single-mindedly set out to teach her student that everything has a name,” said Mo. “Helen Keller would go on to become one of the most prominent women of her time, and become the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree.”
The Miracle Worker stars Susan Robinson-Cloete ’20 as Helen and Ayzia Alexander ’21 as Annie. The production also features Kelly Banfield ’20, Abby Byrtus ’20, Shaina Gonzales ’19, Masud Harrison ’21, Aarav Hathiramani ’22, Penzi Hill ’20, Ben Kessler ’21, Lexi Lazar ’20, Maia Mascari ’22, Sarah Mayer ’21, Liz Merkulova ’22, Eric Ruziskey ’20, Lauren Scott ’20, Hana Sparks-Woodford ’20, Clare Wang ’20, David Xi ’21, Alice Yang ’19, and Rex Zhang ’20.
The show’s student production team includes Stage Manager, Julia Carrigan ’20; Assistant Stage Manager, Cooper Feiner ’20; Student Director and Dramaturg, Katie Kendrick ’20; Student Directors, Lauren Scott ’20 and Clare Wang ’20; Student Set Designer, Raven Zhan ’20; Student Sound Designer, Sidney Gibson ’20; and Student Lighting Designer, Quoc An ’19.