Most American school children grow up learning about Helen Keller and her incredible journey learning how to communicate as a deaf and blind person.
Students in Milaca High School’s fall play are learning far more about Keller’s life than they had before, however.
Junior Bailey Whittemore, who plays Kate Keller, Helen’s mother, didn’t know much about the person she is tasked to represent on stage.
“She was a very sweet woman,” Whittemore said. “She was kind and generous, and I don’t want to brag, but I think I’m the same way.”
Junior Ashely Cope didn’t know much about the character she plays, either.
“I didn’t really know about Annie Sullivan, her teacher,” Cope said.
Olivia Larson, the ninth-grader who plays Helen Keller, said the role is pushing her acting abilities.
“It’s challenging, but I have all of my lines memorized,” Larson said laughing, since her role doesn’t say anything during the play. “It’s also really fun to do.”
Junior Dana Petty didn’t realize how frustrated Helen Keller must have become — a facet of the historical person many may not have known.
“She throws crazy tantrums,” Petty said.
The new information regarding Keller’s life also included her sibling.
“I didn’t know she had a half-brother named James,” Whittemore said.
Austin Carlson, 11th-grader and first time fall play participant, said it was interesting to familiarize himself with the role of James.
“He’s super narcissistic. He’s really fun to play,” Carlson said. “I just have fun playing the character because he intentionally tries to annoy people.”
Drama Director Audrey French said she chose the piece for the demanding script and characters.
“I had a lot of young girls with a lot of blossoming talent and I thought it would challenge them,” French said.
The play also required a bit of creativity on the part of French and her set designers. A scene calling for running water was particularly testing.
“The set is technically challenging,” she said. “It was done in Milaca several years ago under the direction of Jack Palmer, so I did go to him for suggestions.”
“The Miracle Worker” will be performed at the Milaca High School theater at 7 p.m. Nov. 1, 2, 8 and 9 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3.