TUSCUMBIA - The sounds of saws, hammers, and other tools now echo through the outdoor theater where the breakthrough moment of Helen Keller’s life will soon be portrayed.
Carpenters from the Shoals Homebuilders Association are busy constructing a new control booth for The Miracle Worker. The play is presented on six weekends each year at Ivy Green, Keller’s birthplace and childhood home. The lighting and sound systems for the play are controlled from the booth that cast members call ‘the treehouse’.
The new booth will replace one that was almost 30 years old and falling victim to time.
“The old booth was getting in bad shape and needed a lot of repairs,” said Sue Pilkilton, executive director of the Helen Keller Birthplace. “We called Chad Baker, a contractor, to look at the booth and give us an estimate for making the repairs.”
When Baker, owner of Muscle Shoals-based the Baker Co., saw the old control booth and heard Pilkilton and Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation Board members talk of how people from around the world make their way to Tuscumbia to see “The Miracle Worker” play, he saw it as a way for Shoals Homebuilders Association to help the community. Baker is vice president of the association.
“I presented my idea to the home builders association board of directors. The vote was unanimous for us to take it on as a community service project. We try to do a significant community project for the Shoals every year,” said Baker. “This is a wonderful project and we are glad to be a part of it.”
Homebuilders Association members donated money, raised money, and are providing construction crews for the project. Lowe’s of Muscle Shoals donated lumber and other material for the building. The cost of the project is estimated to be around $12,000.
“We are truly blessed to receive this donation from the home builders,” Pilkilton said. “We just spent $35,000 for new bleachers for the play. To have them step in and give us this gift is a tremendous help. The new booth is going to be much more functional than the old one and it will enhance the appearance of our venue.”
The old booth had a single entrance. The new booth will have two entrances and include a VIP seating area.
The work will be completed before the Miracle Worker’s 58th season at Ivy Green open June 7. The play will be presented on Friday and Saturday nights through July 13.
The Miracle Worker chronicles Helen Keller’s early life at Ivy Green, including when she first communicated with her teacher Anne Sullivan by spelling w-a-t-e-r in Sullivan’s had as water flowed from the well pump at the home. Keller, who lost her ability to see and hear due to a childhood illness, overcame those challenges to become America’s First Lady of Courage and an advocate for people with disabilities worldwide.