“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

Theatre professor, Debra Bruch, in her chapter, “The Experience of Theatre” from the essay A Guide to Studying the Relationship Between Engineering and Theatre, explains

“From the very beginning of civilization, the theatre has helped us discover and understand ourselves and our relationship with our world, with others, and with God (or the gods.) As such, it is and always has been an affirming force in the world. As Ludwig Lewisohn (1882-1955) stated, “In all ages the drama, through its portrayal of the acting and suffering spirit of man, has been more closely allied than any other art to his deeper thoughts concerning his nature and destiny.” Unlike any other art, the total, intense focus of theatre is on the human being, his or her existence, and his or her relationship with life. It is a part of human nature to need to examine who we are in relationship with where we are. Consequently, basic elements of theatre and drama exist in every society.”

One thing I’ve not been able to escape these past several years is coasting.  Working from home and not doing as much theatre, as I did prior to raising my sons, has taken a toll on the soul at times.  Theatre has always been that regular injection that awakens, and continually drives my soul.  Yesterday was one of those days where I marveled at life, and being alive.  I rejoiced in the fact that, once again, I felt awakened within.

My dear friend, Suzanne Grote, and I decided to swing out to Wright State University to see THE MIRACLE WORKER at 2:00pm.  When we arrived at the box office we were told all seats were sold; however, if we wanted to wait a few minutes there would probably be some available seats, but probably not together.  Within a few minutes, the box office manager was waving us over, and presented us with two front row seats in the balcony, assuring us the view would be superb to take in the entire two story set.

For the next two and a half hours I was transported far beyond the marvelous story of Helen Keller, and her indomitable teacher, Annie Sullivan.  Within fifteen minutes I was no longer in a theatre on a college campus on the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio.  Before long, I was not even in Tuscumbia, Alabama in the Keller home.

The journey I experienced at Wright State was a kaleidoscope of

  • wanting to cheer
  • wanting to cry (Ok, I did at the end, and several times on my return home)
  • wanting to shake people
  • wanting to yell down my encouragement
  • wanting to butt heads together
  • wanting to hug individuals
  • wanting to pitch in during the dining room’s wrestling scene
  • understanding a parent’s gripping fear and desire to protect their child
  • feeling the heartache of not being able to fix your child
  • recognizing the frustrations of not being able to communicate as a parent
  • connecting to a fellow teacher’s joys, fears, frustrations, exhilaration
  • running into barriers that seem insurmountable
  • desiring that inner courage to knock down any and all barriers
  • feeling trapped and emotionally imprisoned
  • wondering if others truly understand or hear what I am saying
  • knowing there are times when I do not hear or see
  • knowing there are times when I feel dead inside
  • knowing that sometimes my world is dark
  • always wanting a little more time

When the cast came out for bows, I was overwhelmed with emotion in every corner of my world.  I wanted to hug each person down on the stage, not simply applaud them.  These young, fine actors, technicians, technical artists and designers, and director, Lee Merrill, surpassed anything I’ve ever experienced as an audience member in a theatre production.  They proved everything Debra Bruch stated above:

  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my self
  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my relationship with my world
  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my relationship with others
  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my relationship with The Great Spirit

As Act II commenced I realized that my spiritual veins were unclogging.  The deafness that dampened the music of my soul was lifting.  The blindness that had kept me from truly seeing the world around me, and my place in it, was fading.  My desire to forever let my spirit sing had returned.

At 48, I think I fully understand my mentor’s passion for theatre, and for living.  Mr. Joshua Logan seemed to radiate joy, and when he was in discussion about theatre, he was almost angelic in his complete transformation.  His sparkling eyes seemed to peer beyond the present into a euphoric world that is nothing short of magical.

One thing that Mr. Logan insisted upon was that in order for a play/musical to truly succeed the protagonist(s) must change before the audience’s eyes – not from behind the curtain.  In order for the audience to feel a deeper connection to the protagonist’s journey, it must grow with the protagonist throughout the production.

Sunday afternoon, I, as an audience member, changed right along with each character in Mr. Gibson’s play.  I feel as though I accomplished each change experienced by each character.

Upon our return from dinner, I spent most of my evening re-reading the Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan stories on line.  I researched the Keller family, their Alabama home named Ivy Green, Annie Sullivan, and everything associated with this magnificent story.  But all the further obtained knowledge could not even begin to compete with what had awakened me earlier.

The moment at the water pump/well.

Thank you, Wright State University Theatre Department, for guiding me to the return of my own life’s water pump/well.

The original water pump at the Keller home in Alabama.

The original water pump at the Keller home in Alabama.

 

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