30 years later, blind students once again attend TAS production “The Miracle Worker”

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[PHOEBE CHEN/THE BLUE & GOLD]

Thirty years ago, in 1989, Taipei American School performed “The Miracle Worker” and invited students from the Taipei Municipal School for the Visually Impaired, a partner organization of TAS’s Orphanage Club, to attend. This year, the theater department once again performed the popular play by William Gibson and once again invite students from the Taipei Municipal School for the Visually Impaired to the production. 
“It will be incredibly special to see how blind students react to this play and compare it to 30 years ago,” Mr. Richard Arnold, the sponsor for Orphanage club and who saw the production in 1989, said. Directed by Mr. Cory Edwards, Ms. Kari Jensen and student director Tingjen Hsieh (‘20), the show featured a double cast, which are named after the two main characters of the play: Keller and Sullivan. The casts will alternated throughout the week, with an added performance on Saturday due to the typhoon day on Monday.
Although the two casts performed the By Natalie Scheidel (‘21) same story and are using the same script, according to Julianne Vaughan (‘21), who had the role of as Hellen Keller for the Sullivan cast, “they feel like two entirely different shows, where each cast has a different dynamic and brings their own different nuances to the show.” 
For this year’s production, the directors wanted the actors to help transition the scenes by moving props and repositioning furniture on stage to increase the intimacy of the cast and create a sense of familial bond. 
Ivan Wei (‘23) who plays Annie Sullivan’s brother, Jimmie, said, “I’ve always been interested in being part of the backstage crew additionally to being an actor, this allows me to be on stage as well as behind the scenes.”
Even after the experience of performing as Hellen Keller, Julianne still finds it incredibly difficult to imagine being sightless.
“Instinctually, I always think that being blind is to see black, but in the back of my head, I also know that this is not true at all,” Julianne said. “It is like if I tried to see out of my elbow. I can’t. To me, that is what being blind is,” she said. 
Even though Julianne does not know what being blind is like, playing Helen Keller has taught her how important all the senses are. “I’ll sound cheesy, but it made me grateful for all the senses that I take for granted; I can not imagine how I would live without one of them,” Julianne said.