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The Miracle Worker [play] by William Gibson
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The Miracle Worker [play] (1956)

by William Gibson

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My seventh graders enjoy reading this story each year because of its play format. Students also learn sign language as they read the book. There is a part for everyone - boys, girls, large parts, and small ones too. In the middle of the second act, there are five pages of narration (the famous teaching Helen table manners scene). Instead of Reader's Theater, I have the students actually act this scene out. I assign a page of action to each small group; the girls play the roles of Anne and Helen, and the boys narrate the story as the girls duke it out. I've acquired a few costumes from the time period and the kids practice for a few periods before we videotape it. (Popcorn is a great substitute for the scrambled eggs.) This is something really fun to watch at Open House each year. ( )
  YvetteKolstad | Apr 29, 2013 |
An interesting glimpse of the challenges, frustrations, and ultimate triumps of Annie Sullivan and the Keller family to educate Helen, who at a young age, became both deaf and blind. Gibson makes the characters of Helen and Annie complex and vivid. In addition, he shows the pain and conflicts of Helen's parents as they make decisions about raising their child in a time well before there were adequate facilities or rights for people with disabilities. A thought provoking drama about how some individuals face adversity with bravery and determination. ( )
  speedy74 | Feb 25, 2012 |
Drama (Play) MS or HS

Gibson, W. (1956). The miracle worker. New York: Bantam Books.

The Miracle Worker is a play about Helen Keller as a six-year-old girl who has been blind and deaf since the age of two. Her parents don’t know what they can do to help her. They hire her a teacher from New York named Annie Sullivan, who she herself has been blind before. When Annie arrives she knows that Helen is capable of learning, but she faces so many challenges because Helen has been allowed to do whatever she wants for years. She is spoiled and undisciplined. After many battles, between Helen and Annie, Annie realizes that she cannot teach Helen when her parents continue to interfere and give her what she wants because they feel sorry for her. Annie demands that Helen be under her control only, so that Helen will have to depend on her for all of her needs. Helen’s father, Captain Keller, is very reluctant in allowing Annie to have complete control over his daughter. He doesn’t feel that what she is teaching makes any sense, especially to a girl who is blind and deaf. But the sign language is how Annie will get through to Helen, so that Helen can learn how to communicate with the world.
This play takes place in three acts. Even though Helen is a character without dialogue, Gibson’s descriptions of her actions are clear and make it easy to visualize. The scenes transition easily and the elements of Annie’s past are heard through distant voices as she daydreams. Hearing the voices represents an accurate reflection of her memory, considering she was blind at the time and would have no memory of a visual scene. This play is sure to interest young theater readers, as well as anyone else interested in the topic of Helen Keller. Grades 7-10. ( )
  MsLangdon | Dec 5, 2010 |
I remember well my first introduction to Helen Keller. Unbeknownst to me, my mother had ordered a biography book for me from my second grade Scholastic book order. The day it arrived, I took it to my grandma's house after school, sat down with her, and started to read it. I was hooked instantly. Not too many years later, Grandma checked out the movie, "The Miracle Worker", with Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, from the library so I could watch it. I remember fighting back tears in the end. It amazes me that it has taken me this long to read the play, and I loved it just as much as all of my Helen experiences.

It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, but I recognized many lines and description of actions in this play that I remember from the film. Though I don't have extensive experience in reading plays, I noticed how much more acting direction is given by Gibson compared to other plays I have read. This is completely necessary due to how many scenes are wordless and involve a lot of action between Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. The action is described down to specific movements and facial expressions.

This play is appropriate for 7th grade and above, though I think, given the high emotion of the action, it would be better performed by high school students. ( )
  SadieReads | Dec 4, 2010 |
Best book i have read. This book is about Helen Keller and about her teacher Anne Sullivan. The book shows how Ms.Sullivan never evar gave up on Helen No matter what. Till one day she got Helen to see from her hands, by teaching her to talk from her hands. Like i said best book i have read. ( )
  kassyavon | Apr 22, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743457587, Mass Market Paperback)

NO ONE COULD REACH HER

Twelve-year-old Helen Keller lived in a prison of silence and darkness. Born deaf, blind, and mute, with no way to express herself or comprehend those around her, she flew into primal rages against anyone who tried to help her, fighting tooth and nail with a strength born of furious, unknowing desperation.

Then Annie Sullivan came. Half-blind herself, but possessing an almost fanatical determination, she would begin a frightening and incredibly moving struggle to tame the wild girl no one could reach, and bring Helen into the world at last....

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

One of the most beautiful and heartfelt dramas of our time, this is the inspiring story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan--The Miracle worker. This timeless screenplay has been brought to the movies starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, then Patty Duke and Melissa Gilbert.… (more)

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