Local Actors get a Lesson in What it's Like to Live Without Sight or Hearing

Friday, October 13, 2017

As young local actors prepare for the production in December, they will get a lesson in what it's like to live without sight or hearing.

By Max Bennett (Patch Staff) - Updated Oct 13, 2017 12:25 pm ET

BRYN MAWR, PA – The Wolf Performing Arts Center in Bryn Mawr is gearing up to host its production of "The Miracle Worker," the story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. In preparation of the show, the cast and other young Wolf Performing Arts Center (Wolf PAC) actors will experience what its like to be deaf and blind at at special workshop this weekend.

At 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, the Wolf PAC and the Deaf Community Action Network (DeafCAN!) will host the workshop where cast members will use blindfolds and noise-cancelling headphones to get a sense of how Keller lived.

William Lockard, Program Director of DeafCAN!, will lead the workshop and question-and-answer session with students.

"This is a chance to really challenge our performers to reach beyond the scope of what they have lived so far," Director Betsy Wolf Regn said. "We will be asking them to imagine how the world would be a very different place for someone who was unable to see and hear."

Regn set up the workshop, which is open to all sixth through 12th grade actors in performances at Wolf PAC, to prepare her cast for the physical and emotional elements of the performance.

During the workshop, students will use the manipulatives that replicate a deaf-blind environment, giving the cast a better sense of Keller’s world. Additionally, Lockard will introduce both sign language and tactile sign, allowing students the opportunity to "get the feel" for these languages. Lockard’s goal is to invite a discussion about communication in general and how essential it is to human life.

“The students involved in The Miracle Worker are eager to learn more about what Helen Keller experienced so that they can portray such important historical figures with accuracy, sensitivity, and understanding,” Regn said.

"The Miracle Worker" is a play about the life of Helen Keller and her relationship with teacher, Annie Sullivan. Helen falls ill as a young child and becomes blind, deaf, and consequently mute. The play follows Helen’s life through childhood into adulthood and promises a message of hope and determination.

The show is a mature piece for the sixth- to 12th-grade performers involved.

Productions of the play will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday Dec. 10. Tickets are not yet available for the shows.

Deaf Community Action Network is an organization established to address the growing, unmet needs of the deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind community in the greater Philadelphia area.

The Wolf Performing Arts Center is located at 1240 Montrose Ave., Bryn Mawr.

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