Kate Keller: A Mother’s Love

Miracle Worker

A mother’s love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. –Marion C. Garretty
By Lizzie DeShaw

It is often said that motherhood is the hardest job in the world. A mother is an educator, a nurse, a chauffeur, a personal chef, a cheerleader, a maid, etcetera, etcetera.  Being the mother of a child with disabilities is a whole other game. I have thought often of what challenges Kate Keller must have faced raising Helen; a young girl who was both blind and deaf. My heart breaks for Kate Keller at the beginning of the play, The Miracle Worker, when Kate discovers that Helen cannot see or hear her.

One of my favorite character traits of Kate is that she fiercely advocates for Helen’s education. Kate knows her daughter’s mind is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. Throughout the play, we hear Kate’s dialogue insisting that Helen is capable of learning.

Kate is Annie Sullivan’s strongest ally within the Keller home. She promises to help Annie in her efforts to educate Helen and even takes the initiative to learn sign language to communicate with her daughter.

There is a line of dialogue in the play spoken by Captain Keller that goes, We don’t just keep our children safe. They keep us safe. Kate, as a mother, obviously wants what is best for Helen, but she feels inadequate at times. She goes through many challenges as a mother in the story. I admire her quiet strength.

An interesting fact about our specific production of The Miracle Worker is that our cast consists of four mothers who are acting alongside their children in the show.

Those cast members are:

  • Heidi Keith (Crone), mother of Abby Keith (Helen Keller)
  • Gretchen Copeland (Kate Keller), mother of Madeline Copeland (Martha)
  • Kelly Stoll (Crone), mother of Heidi Stoll (Blind Child)
  • Lizzie DeShaw (Viney/Crone), mother of Jacob DeShaw (Percy/ Boy’s Voice) and Mason Newberry (Blind Child)

I asked each of the mothers to tell me about what it has been like working with their child onstage:

Working on ‘The Miracle Worker with my daughter, Madeline, has been a dream come true! Theatre has been a lifelong passion of mine and having a child that shares that passion is amazing. She has been singing and dancing for years, but this was her first non-musical. Watching her blossom in this new way was so cool. She has learned so much from all the amazing people on this show that will continue to serve her in her theatre career for years to come.  We both feel so blessed to have had this amazing opportunity! – Gretchen Copeland

Doing the show together has been so much fun! I choke up every single night watching her. She is such a fierce, strong girl. We’ve had so much bonding time, and made non-stop, priceless memories. – Heidi Keith

I have two children who participate in theatre and every time I see them perform, I always need a tissue for my tears of pride and joy!  This is my first time performing with my daughter, Heidi, and I am so proud of her hard work and growth as an actress.  This experience makes me look forward to working with her again. – Kelly Stoll

Having been involved in theatre for most of my life, it has been a joy and privilege watching my boys discover their own love for the craft. – Lizzie DeShaw

The Miracle Worker runs for three more performances: April 8th and 9th at 7:30pm and April 10th at 2pm. The Sunday matinee on April 10th will be interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL).

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