It's one of the best-known plays in the American theatrical canon, a tough, poignant and inspirational story about determination, triumph and even proto-feminism.
William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker," the fact-based story of Helen Keller and the teacher who broke through to communicate with the deaf and blind child, is next up at the Bradenton Kiwanis Theater at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. It opens Thursday for a three-week run.
Manatee Players regular Amy Woerner (from"Godspell" and "Agnes of God") plays Annie Sullivan, Keller's strong-willed teacher.
"She definitely would have been the first feminist," Woerner said of her character.
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Nearly blind herself, Sullivan stood up to Keller's strong-willed father and Keller herself, who had learned to behave almost as a feral child. Sullivan insisted that the 6-year-old Keller sit at the dinner table and observe normal etiquette, ignoring her violent tantrums, and finally broke through to the young girl everyone else had given up on.
Although Keller was 6 when Sullivan entered her life, her age is never mentioned in the play. Two 12-year-old actors alternate in the role in the Manatee Players production.
Gibson's play based on Keller's autobiography, began a cycle of television plays. He adapted it into a Broadway stage play and then into the classic film starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke.
Details: Dec. 3-20, Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theatre at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave, W., Bradenton. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $26. Information: 941-748-5875, manateeperformingartscenter.com.
-- Marty Clear