2 shows on deck! Halloween Thriller Broomstick and Uplifting Classic American Drama, The Miracle Worker


Owen Carey

As the air turns cold and everyone bundles up to ward off the changing seasons, Artists Repertory Theatre is boldly charging into the spirit of the holiday season!

First up, Resident Artist Vana O'Brien takes the stage in a tour-de-force, one-woman play, Broomstick, by John Biguenet.  Read Artslandia’s interview with her and learn what makes Vana tick!

A woman with incredible knowledge and power leaves her community after a series of deadly coincidences. Now wrinkled and withered, she lives alone in the Appalachian wilderness. Her only companions are runaway children, fleeing homes where they are neglected or abused, who find unexpected comfort in her tiny cabin. In the end, they all grow up and leave, and she is left alone by her ever-boiling cauldron. Only one child ever returns – a shy boy whose parents never seemed to want him, now a grown man. Her mind is overflowing with untold secrets – like the finger hidden behind a mirror with the wedding ring still on its finger, or the girl found dead in the well, a purple ribbon clutched in her fist. Finally, the lonely witch has someone to talk to. As the cauldron bubbles and the winds blow, she pieces together her troubled past in order to understand the role she plays in her community and in fairy tales.

Broomstick's Witch is so much more than the stereotype we see in children's stories. Director Gemma Whelan says: "She has lived a long life, filled with pain and tragedy. She carries the weight of her experience in her body… She would see herself as an avenging angel."

This brilliant new play by John Biguenet opens on Halloween night on Artists Rep's Morrison Stage.


Our December offering, for our ‘holiday’ show, we bring to stage The Miracle Worker by William Gibson.] This inspirational American classic, directed by Artistic Director Dámaso Rodriguez, tells the childhood story of author and activist Helen Keller, and her teacher, Anne Sullivan.

As novelist Mark Twain said, "Helen is a miracle, and Miss Sullivan is the miracle-worker."

In post-Civil War Alabama, the Kellers are a prominent and wealthy family. Captain Keller is a respected veteran, his son, James, is a promising if argumentative young man, while Keller's second wife, Kate, is kind and well-liked. But when baby Helen becomes blind and deaf after a severe illness, the family is at a loss…they have no way to communicate with her. At 7 years old, Helen is almost completely isolated from her family. She breaks into tantrums at random and does as she wishes. All attempts to teach her basic manners have been met with screams, tears and violence. Kate is at her wit's end, James has washed his hands of her and Captain Keller is out of options.

Enter Annie Sullivan, a fiercely independent young woman hired as Helen's governess. Annie arrives with struggles of her own: she was blind until age 14 and grew up in an overcrowded, underfunded state almshouse. Now a recently graduated valedictorian, she is determined to teach Helen all that she can.

Annie's methods hit a wall; Helen has been coddled for her entire life and the Keller family refuses to change their habits. They continue to let Helen have her way and are shocked by Annie's insistence that Helen be treated just like seeing and hearing children. Not only must Annie teach a child just a stubborn as she is, but she must also make the Kellers see that with the proper resources, their child is just as capable as anyone else.

Since its premiere in 1959, The Miracle Worker has amplified the stories of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller and the work they went on to do as international advocates for Deaf, blind and DeafBlind education.


Tickets for Broomstick and The Miracle Worker are available now!

By Jessica Evans Irvine