Directed by Danna Andrade
The inspirational 1880's story of the life of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, will come to life on stage. Trapped in a secret, silent world and unable to communicate, the blind and mute Helen Keller is violent and spoiled. Only Anne Sullivan, her teacher, realizes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark silence. Her attempts to reach Helen are finally realized as Helen achieves the ability to communicate through words and is lifted out of the dark confusion and into the light of understanding. Truly uplifting for all ages!
Evening performances on Friday April 24th & Saturday April 25th, 7:30PM - 9 PM
Matinée on Sunday April 26th, 2PM
Tickets are $18 each for these performances
School Matinées on Wednesday April 22nd and Thursday April 23rd
Tickets are $5 each for these performances
Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan vacationing at Cape Code in July 1888 (image from Wikipedia)
Helen was born on June 27, 1880 at her family homestead, Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her father was a captain in the Confederate Army. Her mother, Kate Adams, was the Captain's second wife and Helen was their first child. She had two older step brothers from her father's first marriage. Helen was born with the ability to see and hear but at the age of 19 months she developed an illness and high fever which left her blind and deaf.
By the age of 6, Helen was becoming too much for her Mother to handle. One day she spilled water on her apron and tried to dry it out by putting it near the fire. It was not drying fast enough so she held it closer to the heat and soon her clothing caught fire. Her nurse, Viny, heard her sounds and smothered the flames. Only her hands and hair were burnt. Helen was uncontrollable, mischievous, and expressed her frustration at not being understood by breaking things. She liked to play with keys and one day she locked her mother in the pantry. Helen gleefully sat nearby and could feel her mother pounding on the door. It was 3 hours before anyone found her mother and let her out.
Her parents considered putting her in an asylum but were appalled by the conditions of the place.
In 1886, Helen's mother read an article by Charles Dickens about a blind and deaf woman, Laura Bridgman, who was successfully taught the manual alphabet, language, and mathematics. She sought out Dr. Chisholm who referred them to Alexander Graham Bell. He referred them to the Perkins Institute for the Blind and from this school, a recently graduated student, Anne Sullivan, was sent to be Helen's instructor.
Anne was born on April 14, 1866 to impoverished, illiterate, unskilled Irish immigrants who came to America during the Great Potato Famine. She was the oldest of 3 children. At the age of 5, she developed trachoma, a bacterial eye disease. Her parents couldn't afford the medication and Anne became clinically blind. At 9 years old, her mother died of Tuberculosis and her alcoholic father sent them to live with an aunt and uncle. Her relative kept the healthy baby, Mary, but sent blind Anne and crippled Jimmie back to their father. He, in turn, abandoned them to the Tewksbury Almshouse. Three months later, Jimmie died from his debilitating hip ailment and Anne was all alone.
The conditions in the almshouse were deplorable and during an inspection, Anne convinced an inspector to enrol her in the Perkins School for the Blind. Travelling there by train, she was elated but soon notice the looks of pity from her fellow passengers. At the school, she faced further humiliation as she could not read, write nor add sums. At the age of 14, she was place in a class with 5 year olds. Her manners were rough and she was argumentative, often getting into fights with teachers and other students. While there, she befriended Laura Bridgman who taught her the manual alphabet. She had several operations on her eyes that improved her vision. By the age of 20, she had top marks and graduated as the valedictorian of her class. However, there were no jobs available to a woman with poor vision.
The year after her graduation, the Keller's contacted the director of the Perkins Institution who recommended Anne for the job.
See a list of the cast here...
April 20: Live Radio interview on CHOK with Director, Danna Andrade and Actor, Carol Graham
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Helpful & Interesting Links
- The WODL
The Western Ontario Drama League was founded by D.Park Jamison in 1932, W.O.D.L. has served the theatre community within Ontario.
- Theatre Ontario provides theatre practitioners throughout Ontario with training and information to enhance and support their art form.
- Pen and Stage - News and information about the visual & performing arts in the Blue Water Area of Michigan and Ontario