The Island Today: Actors spend day in Helen Keller’s shoes
By Grace McQuade, The Island Now | May 4, 2017
Original article on The Island Article’s website.
The Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults recently presented a unique learning experience for actors scheduled to perform William Gibson’s play, “The Miracle Worker,” in May at the Queens Theatre.
A three-act play based on Helen Keller’s autobiography, “The Story of My Life,” “The Miracle Worker” premiered on Broadway in 1959 and was made into an acclaimed film in 1962.
“A Helen Heller Services Board Trustee, Richard Dzwlewicz, suggested that one of our subdivisions, the Helen Keller National Center, partner with Queens Theatre surrounding its upcoming production of ‘The Miracle Worker,’” explained HKS President and CEO Joseph Bruno. “We were thrilled and to date it has been a wonderful experience for everyone involved.”
HKNC Executive Director Susan Ruzenski agreed, saying, “As the only agency in the United States that works exclusively with youth and adults who are DeafBlind, we treasure the legacy of Helen Keller.
In celebration of our 50th Anniversary this year we honor the accomplishments of all DeafBlind individuals who have trail blazed their own path of success. For generations around the world, The Miracle Worker is how many first came to know of Helen Keller’s amazing life and accomplishments.”
As part of the partnership between HKS and Queens Theatre, ten actors and staff affiliated with the current production of “The Miracle Worker,” including Director Brant Russell, visited HKNC’s Sands Point headquarters on April 20 to tour the campus and meet with participants and staff.
Part of the day was devoted to a “simulation experience,” in which participants wore sleep shades and earplugs to experience some of what it is like to be both deaf and blind, as was the case with Keller.
The afternoon concluded with an in-depth question and answer session that gave cast members the chance to speak with DeafBlind participants and staff to gain better insight into their challenges and successes.
Queens Theatre Executive Director Taryn Sacramone said, “When rehearsing a powerful play like ‘The Miracle Worker,’ the actors become immersed in every facet of the production and are keenly aware of the show’s celebrated history, including the legacies of original cast members Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft. I believe that visiting the Helen Keller National Center opened up yet another dimension for us. We got to relax and spend time with some amazing people who shared their personal experiences with the cast. It was very inspiring. We’re so grateful and look forward to welcoming all our new HKNC friends to Queens next month.”
On Sunday, May 21, Queens Theatre will present a special performance of “The Miracle Worker” for Helen Keller Services following a fundraising reception. The Queens Theatre is located at 14 United Nations Ave, South in Corona. Tickets for the full run of “The Miracle Worker” are available on the Queens Theatre website (www.queenstheatre.org) or by calling 718-760-0064.