This weekend, we wrapped up production of The Miracle Worker at ACTA. It was a bitter-sweet ending to an amazing story of courage, commitment, determination & perseverance. Not only from the powerful story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, but from our cast as well.
As you probably know, Helen Keller was born a healthy child and didn’t become deaf & blind until she came down with a severe case of scarlet fever as an infant. Since her family had such a difficult time dealing with her, they contacted the Perkins Institute for help. Annie Sullivan was able to reach through to Helen and the two women and the story will live on through history. I won’t give away any more details to the story, instead I highly recommend you read it yourself, watch the movie (the 1962 version with Anne Bancroft is best) or better yet, watch your local theatre show list to find a stage production of it.
I have to admit that I hadn’t planned on auditioning for this play since I had just finished the ACTA production of Miracle on 34th Street and I was planning on auditioning for Harvey and wanted a break between the two shows. I shall forever be grateful for the prodding of my wonderful friend Emily for talking me into auditioning. Of course I complained & gave her a hard time throughout the run of the show, but I’ll forever be thankful that I was allowed to be a part of it.
Not only did the story of Helen and Annie display the courage that both women had to overcome the isolation of Helen but the commitment of each woman to the other and the perseverance to overcome the isolation and become such an amazing testament to determination. Being part of this show allowed me to see a cast display these same traits.
This story is not only a very emotional one, but it’s also an extremely physical one. Annie had to subdue a violent Helen on many occasions and during the infamous “breakfast scene”, the stage play is an 8-minute explosion of power. Helen fighting Annie in every possible way and Annie never giving up. Again, if you’ve not seen it, you have no idea just how powerful these 8-minutes are. During this show, actresses who played Annie & Helen were absolutely phenomenal. Wearing knee pads under her skirt didn’t keep Annie from getting bruises all over her body to compliment the splinters & scrapes that adorned her hands & arms. Regardless of the pain they were experiencing, they never missed a beat on stage each night. Back stage wasn’t any different either.
Half-way through the run of the show, the actress playing Annie came down with a chest cold. You could hear it in her voice and in her cough. I even caught a glimpse of her inhaling menthol vapor rub right out of the jar just before going on stage. Anyone could tell that she was struggling with it…until she stepped on stage & then nobody could notice. Overcoming that adversity, she mirrored the commitment & perseverance of her character. Just as Annie loved Helen and helping her grow, the actors & actresses loved being on stage and telling this story. It wasn’t for fame or fortune, it was for the love of the stage.
I think that in order to persevere in whatever you do, you have to love it. That includes your job as well as your hobbies. When I was a college instructor, I had students ask me “What’s the best job I can get right after graduation?” My answer was always “The one you love.” Getting a paycheck is only part of the reward for work. The primary reward is gratification in what you do. Whether you’re a ditch digger or the CEO of a multi-national corporation, if you don’t love your job no amount of money will ever make you look forward to going to work.
Love what you do. Do what you love. Find your passion in life. If you can provide for yourself and your family and enjoy doing it, you’re ahead of the game. Don’t take a job you don’t love just because the pay is good. Take a position doing what you love doing and the pay will come. When you love what you do, you excel at it and when you excel at it, people notice. As Helen Keller said, “We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough” and if it’s something you love, it’s even easier.