Young Helen Keller, blind, deaf, and mute since infancy, is in danger of being sent to an institution because her inability to communicate has left her frustrated and violent. In desperation, her parents seek help from the Perkins Institute, which sends them a "half-blind Yankee schoolgirl" named Annie Sullivan to tutor their daughter. Despite the Kellers' resistance and the belief that Helen "is like a little safe, locked, that no one can open," Annie suspects that within Helen lies the potential for more, if only she can reach her. Through persistence, love, and sheer stubbornness, Annie breaks through Helen's walls of silence and darkness and teaches her to communicate, bringing her into the world at last.
Let's set the scene...
Rory and Lorelai are still experiencing fall out from their epic post-dance battle. Lane inquires about whether or not things have gotten less chilly in the Gilmore household.
Lane: Let me guess. You and Lorelai haven’t made up yet?
Rory: Nope. Things are still Miracle Worker at my house. God, how did everything get so screwed up?
I had a hard time coming up with some insightful things to say about The Miracle Worker. It's a little more difficult when the subject matter is a biographical play about two real people. So instead, I'm going to share with you some interesting things I learned about the story:
The title of the play comes from Mark Twain describing Annie Sullivan as "a miracle worker". Twain was an admirer of both Keller and Sullivan. Although he had financial issues, he helped arranged the funding of Keller's Radcliffe College education.
The work itself is derived from Keller's autobiography The Story of My Life and several personal letters from the estate of Annie Sullivan.
The play debuted on Broadway at The Playhouse Theater on October 19th, 1959. The cast starred Anne Bancroft as Annie and Patty Duke as Helen. The cast also featured such notables as Thorin Thatcher (Captain Keller), Patricia Neal (Kate Keller) and Michael Constantine (Anagnos).
The original Broadway production received the following prestigious awards:
Tony Award for Best Play
Tony Award for Best Direction (Arthur Penn)
Tony Award for Best Actress (Anne Bancroft)
Tony Award for Best Stage Technician (John Walters)
Theatre World Award (Patty Duke)
Gibson, Penn, Bancroft and Duke reunited in 1962 for a highly acclaimed film adaptation. Gibson and Penn were nominated for Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Penn for Best Director and both Bancroft and Duke won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
The play has also been adapted twice for TV, first in 1979 on NBC with Duke switched to the role of Annie and Melissa Gilbert as Helen.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the play, a revival opened on March 3, 2010 at The Circle in the Square Theater. The cast starred Alison Pill as Annie and Abigail Breslin as Helen. The cast also featured such notables as Matthew Modine (Captain Keller), Jennifer Morrison (Kate Keller) and Tobias Segal (James Keller).
Who do I see reading this in the Stars Hollow gazebo?
I can see Sookie enjoying this classic tale of struggle and triumph. As an eternal optimist, Ms. St. James would fully embrace the idea that Sullivan could get through to Annie and change her life forever.