Emotional and persistent: the story behind ‘The Miracle Worker’

Tigard High School Theater department dives into the deep and moving story for it’s fall production.


Josh Berry

Junior Jamie Schroeder (right) and Senior Kenzie Strong (left) run through their scene from “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson. “I like being able to take a break from myself and step into the shoes of another person with their own struggles, thoughts, and emotions. It opens your eyes to other worlds,” Strong said.

By Olivia Young, News Editor

     Every year, THS’s Theater puts on a fall production to entertain their community and display the talent and skill of the people in their department. This year they are doing the Miracle Worker, a play that highlights the struggles and triumphs of Helen Keller in her childhood and her caretaker, Anne Sullivan.

     “As a young child, [Keller] was struck with a very severe fever that caused her to turn deaf and blind at the age of 2. She’s just trying to understand the world around her, but obviously she’s had some serious struggles to over mount in regards to communication.” Junior Cait Smith said. She’s taking Keller’s name as her own, playing the lead role in the production.

     In preparation for playing Keller, Smith put herself into Keller’s shoes in multiple ways- learning sign language, studying her passions, and even going blind, then deaf, for a day. During this process, however, not only did she learn more about her character, she also learned more about herself.

     “One of the most important things I’ve learned… [the prep] doesn’t really matter if you don’t have fun with it. I could do all these things, and if I don’t go out on stage and play the role as honestly as I can, none of it’s going to matter. I want to play Helen Keller as honestly as I can.” Smith said.

      “[Smith] is very committed and dedicated to creating this character. She brings so much joy and energy to the stage, and really respects her fellow theater students and her peers.” Director Bobi Bergh said. A former student, Bergh started student teaching for the THS Theater department at the beginning of this school year. She plans on starting her own theater department, and through the Miracle Worker she’s learned what it takes to put on a production as extensive as this- a dedicated ensemble, tech team, and cast.

    “This program has a great set of students that take on so much responsibility, and it’s great to really see them master their craft and have so much integrity and respect for the program.” Bergh said. “This is a story that I think many people don’t know a lot about- there’s so much more to her story that they’ll be able to see in the Miracle Worker.” Bergh said.

     On and off stage, Smith has had people supporting her and her role. One of these people is senior Kenzie Strong, who plays her mother Kate Keller. In playing this role, she’s learned more about Keller and her family and the empathy displayed on a daily basis, and made her more aware of the things we might all take for granted.

     “When most people hear ‘Helen Keller’, they think of [her] being deaf and blind. There is so much more to her than that- she’s very intelligent. I think the most important thing I’ve learned through Kate, though, is empathy. She does everything in her power to make sure Helen is okay at all times. She truly doesn’t let Helen’s disabilities get in the way of her love for her.” Strong said.

     “[Strong] has been so awesome to work with, mainly because of, like Smith, her dedication. She takes notes and directions well, and she’s very eager to perform well and be the best she can be.” Bergh said.

    “This program has a great set of students that take on so much responsibility, and it’s great to really see them master their craft and have so much integrity and respect for the program.” Bergh said.

     Smith, Strong, and the rest of the cast highly recommend coming to see the show. Apart from watching talented students portray their characters, there is a good chance you’ll learn more about yourself after walking out of the Deb Fennell auditorium- more about empathy, more about loving unconditionally, and more about how we take our senses for granted.

     “I think students, and teachers, should go see the Miracle Worker because… it not only educates you on Helen Keller and her life, but it ties in so many different aspects of relationships and feelings. Whether or not theatre is your thing, I think everyone would be able to find a part of them in this show, or a part of them that connects with the show in some way.” Strong said.

     “It’s a heartwarming and good show,” Smith added, “I think people need a reminder that life can be hard, but kindness and persistence can go a long way.”

     If you’re interested in seeing the show, they will be having performances Thursday through Saturday at 7:30, with a matinee at 2 on Saturday as well, in the auditorium. Bring some friends, an open heart, and get ready to watch this eye-opening show.