In preparing for the role of Anne Sullivan, the governess of Helen Keller, in the CAST community theater production of "The Miracle Worker," you might think that you’d need to know how to be composed, deliberate and firm in your temperament.
Which is why it was a bit of a surprise for actress Sarah Golke to need to know a little bit of stage combat as well.
"A lot of people think of Anne as just a teacher, but she had to physically restrain Helen. physically make her do basic things such as eat with a spoon or hold a napkin," Golke said. "Helen was wild, and Anne had to tame her."
In the play, which opens Thursday night, Helen is played by 13-year-old Chloe Cater. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Tuscumbia native Helen Keller became blind and deaf as a baby. Because her parents weren’t able to properly teach or restrain her, she grew up being allowed to do whatever she pleased.
When Sullivan arrived, she was a godsend. She was able to teach Helen how to comprehend and survive in a world that was not designed to accommodate her.
Golke was last seen in CAST’s December production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!" as Imogene Herdman. She was excited to take on the challenge of a role requiring more composure.
"I knew if I watched the movie, I would try to impersonate the actress playing Anne Sullivan, and I just wanted to make it a more personal role," she said. "It’s a very hopeful story."
Keller and Sullivan forged a bond that would last nearly five decades. Keller would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe College and become a writer, public speaker and human rights activist.
"Even though she was blind, she could still feel her way around. She could still move and perform any kind of action," said Golke. "Although [this story] is specifically about a deaf and blind person, it can be applied to almost any situation, of what a human is capable of overcoming if they try and if they push hard."
Erin Williams is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star.