The Room’s a Wreck, But Her Napkin is Folded: The Incredible Amount of Patience That Went into Producing the “Miracle Worker”
By Madison Holman and Emma Holm-Olsen
Let’s face it. You probably struggle to even walk up the stairs without tripping over your own feet in the dark. But if you thought that was hard, try adding a blindfold that would completely handicap your eyes. And might as well add a pair of ear plugs in there too, while we’re at it. Now I know you’re probably thinking – I thought we were talking about the play, not role-playing being blind and deaf. Welcome to the world of method acting – a world where if it’s written you’re blind, you bet your eyes will be of no use. Or welcome to the world of the four girls that are casted as Helen Keller, a blind and deaf girl in the late 1800s of America that learned how to speak, in EAB’s production of “Miracle Worker.”
When asked what the hardest thing about the play has been so far, director Kate Riley answered: “I wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to play a giant leading role, so I double-cast, but then I cast 4 Helens. So we’re going to have four productions, with one Helen [Keller] for each cast … We need about 480 hours of rehearsing that we have to fit into somewhere around 120-130 hours of rehearsal.”
Sure enough she was right; this play has been incredibly time-consuming and tiring. Eleventh grader Thomas Brassanini playing Captain Keller, Helen’s father, told us that memorizing lines was especially difficult.
It was hard because Keller’s lines are pretty wordy, very long, and very specific, so to actually get it word for word was very tough.
But aside from the difficult lines written in “old-timey” language that many of the cast members have been struggling with, we also all had to learn accents for the show- southern accents for most of us- while the girls playing Annie Sullivan had to pull out an Irish accent.
So then there was learning the accents, which range from a mild Greek, to an Irish to an Alabamian southern accent. Ninth grader Abe Barlow, playing James Keller, Helen’s brother, said:
You can start by trying to learn the accent, but what’s hard is getting into the rhythm to be able to switch back and forth between your normal voice and the accent you’re trying to portray.
But even though this is a pretty difficult production to put on, co-director and former EAB student Jader Neto says he is incredibly proud of the work that has been put into this show: “Well, I’m proud because this is my first time directing anything, and I’m proud to see all of my friends who have been acting mates in the past getting this play, [which is] not an easy play by any account … The play’s coming through really nicely, and it’s really good to see all the effort everyone is putting in is coming together into this, like, piece of art, that will definitely touch people.”
The cast couldn’t agree more. We’ve all had so much fun working on this show, and we hope that the audience gets as rich an experience out of seeing it as we got working on it. The story of Helen Keller is unbelievably important, especially nowadays when people have started to forget her life’s accomplishments. I think the two of us speak for everyone when we say we feel incredibly grateful to be a part of the retelling of this amazing story.
Come see the “Miracle Worker” on Thursday November 8 at 7:30 pm, Friday November 9 at 4 pm and 7:30 pm, and Saturday November 10 at 3pm. We hope to see you all there and we can’t wait to share with you all of our hard work!