RC Community Theatre presents ‘The Miracle Worker’

News Photo by Julie Riddle Rehearsing a scene from Rogers City Community Theatre’s production of “The Miracle Worker” are, from left, Ashley Nowicki, Emmalyn Riddle (kneeling), Abbey Mulka (on floor), Jacob Bruski and Bradley Heidemann. Also cast in the productioin are Daniel Bielas, Hannah Hentkowski, Mallory Ryan, Sophia Schiepek and Miranda Seiter.

We know the story. A blind, deaf child with an untamable spirit struggles against her dark, silent world. A courageous teacher, determined and stout of heart, fights past every obstacle to give her pupil the gift of language. A pitcher…a water pump…a moment of connection…a miracle.

The story of “The Miracle Worker” is not new. But the truths that lie within the story will never grow old.

The first production of Roger City Community Theatre’s 2017 season is William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker.” It features a cast and crew entirely made up of high school-aged youth, including students from Rogers City High School and homeschoolers from the surrounding area.

The cast has been hard at work since auditions in late November, meeting for afternoon rehearsals in a classroom at the high school. School administration and staff have been very gracious and supportive of the endeavor, offering encouragement along the way and expressing appreciation for an avenue for students to find “new ways to be awesome.”

And awesome they are. The students in this production come from a range of theater backgrounds, from novices to old pros. One thing they have in common – they are full of contagious enthusiasm. They come bounding into rehearsals ready to dive into their work of portraying the inhabitants of the 1880’s world of “The Miracle Worker.”

One of the fun aspects of historical fiction is the ability to learn about the lives of its characters outside what is presented on the page or the stage. “The Miracle Worker” presents snapshots of a very real family who lived in pre-turn-of-the-century Alabama.

Captain Keller, a retired Civil War officer and newspaper editor, and his young second wife Kate, are exhausted from raising their daughter Helen, who has been blind and deaf since she was 18 months old. They are emotionally distant from Helen’s older half-brother, James, who is still hurting from the death of his mother and alienated from the sister he sees as “half human, half mentally defective.”

Helen, despite the love and attentions of her parents, does indeed more closely resemble a wild animal than a little girl. Her lack of a language with which to communicate with the world has kept her in a mental darkness far more devastating than mere lack of sight.

Into Helen’s dark world steps Annie Sullivan, the recent graduate from the Perkins Institute for the Blind. Annie fiercely holds to the conviction that inside the tousled head of her young pupil there is a keen intelligence just waiting to be reached. With obstinate passion Annie battles both the difficulties of her situation and the ghosts of her past to give the gift that will change Helen’s life forever – the gift of language

With “The Miracle Worker,” Gibson brings us not only a masterfully written tale but also a look into the truths of human existence. His characters ache to be reconnected with one another. They know the darkness of separation, the pain of not having the words to express their deepest needs.

It is not Helen alone who is in need of a miracle. And by the end of the show, it is not Helen alone who receives one. Each of the characters is impacted by the miraculous forces that touch all our lives: the unfathomable power of love; the inexplicable strength of forgiveness.

That’s part of the magic of the theater. As the audience sits in the dark, they melt into the story on the stage, seeing bits and pieces of their own lives intertwined with those before them.

We go to the theater to connect to the world. To learn about who we are, and to catch a glimpse of ourselves in our fellow man. We watch a play…we reconnect…and we find the language of our hearts. It is miraculous indeed.

Performances of “The Miracle Worker” will be Feb. 16-18 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. at Rogers City Community Theater, 257 N. Third in Rogers City. For information email info@rcctheatre.org, call 734-3861 or visit rcctheatre.org.