OPTIONS Visits the IRT and Experiences The Miracle Worker
written by Theresa Patterson
OPTIONS Class 12
OPTIONS Class 12 recently spent a lovely evening with IRT Artistic Director and Emeritus Women’s Fund Board member, Janet Allen. The evening included a behind the scenes tour of the IRT and set of The Miracle Worker, dinner and the show.
Janet led us on a tour of the beautifully restored facility and shared the rich history of the building and its many uses. It was a delight to be afforded the opportunity to take it all in while Janet talked.
We were then led onto the set of The Miracle Worker, which was busy with prep for the evening show. I really loved the tour of the work areas, especially the costume shop. Janet held up the original hand-painted images of the costumes that were in themselves little works of art. She explained the costume creation process which includes creating a mock-up version of each costume that is fitted and then dismantled and used as the pattern for the final product.
After leaving the costume shop, we were treated to a scrumptious dinner buffet. As I am on a diet, I had one of everything, including the carrot cake. I am not certain what the chef did to this cake, but will say this: it should ALWAYS be prepared glazed and THEN frosted with cream cheese perfection. In fact, I suggest that you stop what you are doing right now, go to the IRT, bang on the door until someone lets you in, then refuse to leave until they give you carrot cake. You will thank me later.
Following, Janet took us to our seats shortly before the lights dimmed and the show began. The opening scene, with Helen Keller’s parents and the doctor set the tone for the remainder of the evening as they learned their precious baby girl could not see or hear.
We were plunged into the world of a family desperate to help the child they loved. I had to admire the strength of Helen’s mother, Kate, who lived in a time when a woman was not welcome to share her opinion on the decisions made in a household. Despite this she was able to make clear that she would not stop advocating for her daughter.
When we met young Annie Sullivan we learned that she carried the baggage of a punishing childhood as she entered the Keller household. She was curious, determined, and headstrong. She was able to discern that Helen’s family loved and pitied their daughter in equal measure and that neither was doing her any good.
Annie was tireless in trying to “teach” Helen even though she knew she was not unlocking the real person trapped within. The physical and mental challenge took a tremendous toll on Annie, but she never gave up fighting for Helen, even when Helen’s own family was ready to.
The moment when Annie “unlocked” Helen and taught her to associate the word water with actual water (yes, they had water all over the stage) I had tears pouring down my face.
The message that women and girls should take away from The Miracle Worker is that even if you are faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, if you are determined, willing to work hard, and never give up, you can be richly rewarded for your efforts. Have faith in yourself and keep trying; you may just make a difference in your life or the life of someone else.
My only complaint about the evening and our time with Janet was that it was too brief. It was an inspiration to be in the company of a gifted leader and acting troupe. I suggest you make time to allow yourself to be inspired and see The Miracle Worker.
Note: The Miracle Worker runs through May 20 at the IRT
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