Director Marshall Hughes (3rd from left) brought the Roxbury Repertory Theatre production of The Miracle Worker to Perkins School for the Blind on November 6. Perkins student actors surround Elise Hana, who played Helen Keller. L-R: Kerryne Ohlson, Minh Farrow, Hughes, Leslie Gruette, Hana, Michelle Smith.
RRT co-founder, Marshall Hughes, directed the show. Scenes between Perkins’ second director Michael Anagnos and Sullivan, his star pupil, depict the mentor encouraging and cajoling the first-time teacher before she heads to the Keller home in Tuscumbia, Alabama. The farewell scene at Perkins expresses the affection between Annie and younger pupils who were portrayed by current Perkins students, with additional direction by their drama teacher, Jennie O’Brien.
Four Perkins students performed with RRT during the October run in Boston at Roxbury Community College Media Arts Center [www.rccmainstage.com]. As a special treat for Perkins School and its neighbors, the theatre company trucked their actors and set pieces to Watertown for one special performance. “Being here at Perkins among so many artifacts and memories of Annie and Helen was a powerful inspiration for the whole cast and an important collaboration between our communities,” said Hughes. “As a director, it was enlightening to work with actors who are blind. Minh, Leslie, Kerryne and Michelle immediately bonded in with their fellow actors. Jennie was amazing in her support, and Perkins was gracious to let us come in and take over Dwight Hall.”
Most of the action occurs in Alabama, comic mishaps intermingling with poignant drama. Of her young teacher’s arrival, Keller later said, "The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me."
Students, staff, Watertown residents, family and friends gathered in Dwight Hall to relive this powerful chapter of Perkins history. Thundering applause greeted the curtain call.