Pulling off a brilliant performance this past weekend, the cast from Greenville College performed William Gibson's The Miracle Worker: The Story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, directed by Jill Cox. The play tells the story of an Alabama family during the 1880’s whose daughter is both deaf and blind.
Even in Helen Keller’s practical joking and sense of humor, junior Tammy Yoder seriously presented her as a complex figure who, despite difficulties, enjoys her life with her family.
The savior in the story is Helen’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, played by senior Stephanie Schanot. From the way she carried her body to the squint in her eyes, Schanot displayed how Anne Sullivan struggled with a sight-correctional surgery, bringing to her performance Sullivan’s in-depth back story. Schanot and Yoder threw their whole beings into their characters, often having to wrestle with each other in mind and body as Helen was challenged to learn about the world.
There were recurrent flashbacks in the play, moments where Anne Sullivan recollected to a past that included her time in an insane asylum with her brother, Jimmy. These flashbacks haunted Anne and seemed to drive her further into her work, pushing Anne not to give up on Helen. The lighting aided the audience in understanding the flashbacks, thanks to David Ulmer, who choreographed the lighting for the show.
There were several freshmen new to the Factory Theatre’s stage: Nathan Ondracek played the sarcastic and struggling half-brother, James; Brittany Restoff as the prying Aunt; and Andrea Lopez as Viney, the house-servant.
The heads of the household, Captain Keller and Mrs. Kate Keller, were played by seniors Andrew Richards and Stephanie Thompson. Richards played the role of the Captain with a twist of a humorous character, lightening the heaviness of a challenging story, while Thompson sustained the role of a supportive and loving mother.
The audience laughed with the quirkiness of the characters, felt the awkwardness of disagreements, grew upset over obstacles, and rejoiced when Helen finally realized that each thing has a name. Just as Anne Sullivan was able to give Helen the bridge to language, this cast gave us the glimpse into a world where life is more difficult than we can imagine.
-Sarah Beth Meyers, Freshman