Playhouse in the Park presents William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" Beginning March 18
Murray's Playhouse in the Park presents William Gibson's The Miracle Worker this weekend and next. Director Brad Brauser and Kaytie Schmidt, who plays Annie Sullivan, speak with Derek Operle about the upcoming productions.
From the Playhouse in the Park website:
"This classic tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller. 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 treated by her family as such.
Only Annie realizes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark, tortured silence. With scenes of intense physical and emotional dynamism, Annie’s success with Helen finally comes with the utterance of a single glorious word: water."
"Helen Keller's story and The Miracle Worker teaches us that we are never too far gone to overcome obstacles that we may have," Brauser begins. "[Helen's] family didn't think she was meant for anything but just surviving. But with the right tools and the right teacher, she was able to accomplish so much with her blindness, her deafness, her muteness. It's just an inspiring story."
Schmidt explains that diving into the role of Helen's teacher, Annie Sullivan, was an interesting experience—but not entirely unfamiliar. "I'm actually an education major," Schmidt says. "So, playing a teacher role is very normal for me. I do it every day with my practicum students."
Schmidt differs from her role, however, in style of teaching. "Annie Sullivan was very rough. She was very curt and rude, but she was young. So, she was kind of optimistic in her own way. I view myself as an optimistic person and very kind person. So, when I act with my students, I'm very gentle. Not so rough and hands-on."
"It's been very rough," Schmidt continues, "especially working with someone younger than I am who plays Helen Keller. She's been so great to work with. But it's been interesting to work on, okay, if I'm hurting you, let me know. Honestly, when we're in it, it just has to look real. And that's been difficult to step into mentally and not get too frustrated with myself."
"One of the lines that always sticks out to me in the show is one of Annie's lines," Brauser adds. "She says, 'I treat her like a seeing child because I expect her to see.' She's right. Annie Sullivan didn't have any pity or sympathy toward Helen. She treated her like she would have treated anybody else, and I think that kind of relationship is what helped Helen go beyond what was expected of her."
"One thing I hope people take away from the show is I believe this show is all about communication. Not only communication between Helen and Annie, but between all the other characters, the Kellers, and the other characters in the show. I hope when they see this, I hope they not only are inspired by Helen's story, but also look at their own lives and see where communication is lacking in their own lives and work toward improving that," Brauser concludes.
Murray's Playhouse in the Park presents The Miracle Worker on Friday, March 18th, and Saturday, March 19th, at 7 pm and Sunday, March 20th at 2:30 pm. It will present the show again the following weekend, Friday through Sunday, with the same showtimes.