Donoho School students in Anniston presented a play Friday about Helen Keller for students from the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.
"The Miracle Worker" tells the story of Keller's youth and development and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and is partially based on Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life.
Drama teacher Ashley Burrage directed the play, and she chose it for the local connection.
Keller was a Tuscumbia native and students learn about her life, she said.
Donoho invited students from the Talladega institute for a morning performance.
Jan Hurd, president of the Donoho School, said it was a great idea to bring the schools together.
"Our students always do such a tremendous job" in performances, she said.
The crowd was audibly subdued as the performers prepared. But Talladega students were engaged in the same chatter common to teenagers.
Most of it was with hands and fingers instead of the expected murmur of voices.
The play begins with Keller's parents realizing she is blind and deaf.
This combination would leave her uncontrollable, since she had no way to communicate. This would persist until the arrival of Anne Sullivan, played by Megan McCrary, 17.
The rest of the play follows the life of the two women, with Sullivan teaching Keller by signing on Keller's hands.
To act as if she lost her sight and hearing was difficult for Ellen Hardy, 17, who plays Keller.
During practice she could use a blindfold or keep her eyes closed, but that wouldn't work for the play. The actual Keller didn't crawl around her house with a blindfold on, after all.
Instead, Hardy stared at the ceiling, a compromise that ensured she stumbled over and into her fellow cast members with a similar abandon to that of the young Keller.
She played Keller as a six-year-old and as a teenager. For the scenes of her uncontrollable youth, she walked on her knees, fast enough to need volleyball-style kneepads
One of the hardest scenes to play is when water is thrown in her face, she said. To maintain her character, she has to be totally surprised when it hits her face.
Shock is hard to maintain when she can see it coming, she said.
Before the performance, the Donoho fourth through sixth graders performed a welcome song for their visitors, using sign language and voices.
The Miracle Worker When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: The Donoho School, 2501 Henry Road, Anniston
Admission: $5. Free for students and children under 12