Cast of The Miracle Worker prepping for the show.
By Pat Jewell
Tater Patch Players
The Tater Patch Players will open their production of The Miracle Worker this week at the Tater Patch Players Theater. The play has a lot of historical value as well as being dramatic and, at times, funny. We first see the 19-month-old Helen surrounded by her mother, father and a doctor. Until this time, Helen was a healthy, active toddler, but the disease left her deaf and blind. Helen was born in Tuscumbia, Al., in 1880. We get an idea of the date the events take place from Aunt Ev who states that “the war is over and there is Yankee money.” The Keller homestead, Ivy Green, is typical for middle class at the time, if not a little battle scarred. Captain Keller, Helen’s father, served in the war and is the editor of the local newspaper. Kate is his second wife with Helen being her first child.
Also from Aunt Ev we learn that the Kellers are related to Robert E. Lee. This is true, as Captain Keller’s mother was a second cousin to the famous General. Kate’s father, Charles Adams, fought in the Civil War and became a Brigadier General.
Aunt Ev is indignant when someone named Sullivan and from Boston was sent to teach Helen. She shows that she has knowledge of news from outside the Tuscumbia area by mentioning John L. Sullivan. John was an undesirable to Aunt Ev because he was a heavyweight boxer. He won his Gloved Boxing World Championship in 1887.
Annie Sullivan was sent from the Perkins Institute for the Blind in South Boston where she studied. Helen later attended the school. Keller went on to other schools including Cambridge School for Ladies and she later attended Radcliff where she became the first deaf blind person to receive a BA degree. Helen learned Braille and sign language. She could read lips by touch and learned to speak.
Annie played a huge role in Helen’s life. She went from being a teacher, to a governess, to a companion. Annie followed Helen around the country and she and her husband John assisted Helen in writing her first book. Helen became an author, political activist, speaker and advocate for the blind. She lived to be 87 years old.
The story of Helen’s early life in The Miracle Worker is indeed factual. They did have servants. There was a servant girl named Martha who learned quickly to communicate with Helen. The lapse of time between Annie’s arrival and Helen’s breakthrough is about a month. Other interesting facts are sprinkled throughout the play.
The actors and crew have worked hard to make this the best theater experience for you. Just in time for the Christmas season, the troupe brings you this heartwarming drama. The show dates and times are Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 6, 7 and 8 at 7:30 and Sunday 2 p.m. matinees on Dec. 2 and 9. Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. They may be purchased in advance on line at www.taterpatchplayers.org or at the box office beginning one hour before curtain time.