"Expressing the miracle"—Q&A with our Helen Keller, Rebecca Laurenti

The Miracle Worker opens this week at the Abbotsford Arts Centre and to give you a little insight into the production, we asked a few questions of Rebecca Laurenti who plays Helen Keller in the show.

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  1. Tell us a little bit about what it's like to play Helen Keller. How do you get into character? 

Wow. I mean to play such a tenacious spirit has been a tremendous honor for me. I am having LOADS of fun playing a spoiled brat, getting what I want, and behaving more like an animal than a child. Getting into character involves a few things:

- Visualizing her as a spoiled Pomeranian 

- Close my eyes and begin to "step into her world" so to speak

- Making moaning noises at the back of my throat

- Walking around like her

- Removing my glasses 

  1.  What is the most challenging part of the show for you? What is the most fulfilling or enjoyable part?

I will be honest in saying that the miracle scene when Helen understands language for the first time has been the biggest hurdle for me - and probably always will be. My seeing and hearing self cannot truly begin to comprehend what it would have been like to experience a chaotic world suddenly snap into meaningful order all at once. However, with research and constant dialogue with my director, Jessica Garden, I am building confidence for this particular scene. My desire is to express the miracle as genuinely as I can to the audience.

The most fulfilling part for me has been the relationship between Helen and her mother. The playwright has created such incredibly touching scenes that display the depth of that relationship. The chemistry I am finding with Cristin (Mrs. Keller) throughout these scenes has also been extremely healing for me personally. 

  1.  What makes you excited about people seeing the show?

Oh man, the anticipation I have that people will be moved beyond words is so exciting to me! There is a reason why this play has been alive since the late 1950's - the powerful theme of human connection is indisputable. I am excited for people to relate to a character they see onstage and be moved through witnessing that character overcoming their hurdle.

  1.  How do you prepare before a show? What's the last thing you do before you step onto the stage?

Stretch, stretch, stretch!!! With this role in particular, I need to make sure my body is ready for those very unnatural movements. I warm up my voice as well - singing songs that get me pumped up! I then listen to music that Shannon (Aunt Ev) wrote specifically for this show, which helps me slowly step into the lost world of the little Helen. I also pray throughout this entire process, which always helps me focus and re-center on why I am doing what I am doing. 

The last thing I do behind the curtain before stepping out is mentally saying, "Ok God, may they not see me, but you through me." And finally "let's have FUN!" in which, I step out and do what I am absolutely in love with. Wow, am I ever grateful.