SDSU thespians learn a lesson, gain insight from a different kind of teacher

Lucinda Albers

Lucinda Albers

People use their senses everyday. But many of us use them without thinking. Leslye Orr, a legally-blind actress, recognizes these hidden senses and tries to make them more appealing to those in her audience.

Orr, a South Dakota native, visited the SDSU campus to teach theatre students a little something about acting. The Miracle Worker, set to run April 13 to 16 in Doner Auditorium, is a play based on the times and trials of Helen Keller. Orr was called in to help the actress playing Helen Keller realize what it might be like to be blind and deaf.

Not only did she teach the actress, but also the rest of the cast. She performed a play of her own, called Hand in Hand, to close the eyes of the audience, and open every other sense they have.

The play encourages audience members to close their eyes and experience the entire performance through touch and sound. Based on the life of Helen Keller and her tutor, Anne Sullivan, Orr expresses the troubles of the two through voice while passing around small parcels relating to what part of the play she is expressing. The audience must only listen to her voice and touch these objects to understand the play’s meaning.

The play, which took Orr almost two years to write, includes not only voice but also movement as “lines.” Every step is heard as the audience strains to listen to every possible sound to experience the whole performance. Not only are they visiting another play, but they are also experiencing it in a way they never have before.

Although the struggles that Keller and Sullivan endured are nearly impossible to imagine, The Miracle Worker and Hand in Hand examine them. Instead of opening your eyes, these plays just might open your mind.

#1.885212:1266797506.jpg:leslye2.jpg:Lesley Orr perfoms her play, Hand in Hand, based on Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan for The Miracle Worker cast. The Miracle Worker is also based on Helen Keller.: