HARRISBURG – HACC TheatreWorks will perform William Gibson’s 1960 play, “The Miracle Worker,” the classic story of the volatile, yet steadfast relationship between Annie Sullivan and her student, deaf, blind and mute Helen Keller.
Performances take place at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 4, in the Studio Theatre in the Rose Lehrman Arts Center on HACC’s Harrisburg Campus.
The play was produced into the Oscar-winning 1962 film starring Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen Keller.
"I think I am taking a rather unconventional approach to the play," said director Marnie Brennan, professor of theatre. "I am down-playing the sentimentality and trying to show that this is a play about broken-ness. No one in the play is completely whole. They all have a blind spot, if you will, and they don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear. I find it interesting, and of course accurate, that Annie makes the observation that the family treats Helen like a pet and indulges her every whim. Helen's tantrums come from her not getting her own way, of course, but they also come out of her fear and isolation. Annie has to teach her to be independent. Not just to survive, but to live in a world that won’t always indulge her."
Playing Helen Keller is theatre arts major Veronica Chiarelli, an international student from Brazil. "Playing the character has been very challenging for me" said Chiarelli. "Getting to know her has taught me some very valuable lessons. I have a whole new understanding of how we use language and how we take our senses for granted."
All of the cast members are majoring in theatre arts including Nicole Schade, who plays Helen’s mother Kate. Schade has a different challenge with the part. "I am young, and not a mother, but I discovered the fierce love that a mother has for her child and I am so excited to share that insight with an audience."
Bobby Belche, who plays Captain Keller, is the military man who can command a regiment, but cannot seem to reach his family.
And, in being cast as Annie Sullivan, Christina Shindel said it is the biggest role she’s ever had and the most difficult. “The more I research, the more I see this as Annie's story, not just Helen's , and it is really a wonderful experience. I cant wait for opening night."
Tickets for “The Miracle Worker” are $12 for adults and $8 for students. Contact HACC’s box office at 231-ROSE (7673) or go to www.LiveatRoseLehrman.org.