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Theater Spotlight
Watertown Children's Theatre

A Miracle on Arsenal Street


On Sunday afternoon, October 11th, a truly unusual event took place in the Arsenal Center's Mosesian Theater. It represented a unique and rich collaboration between the Watertown Children's Theatre, the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Roxbury Repertory Theater, and Perkins School for the Blind. Through support from WCT's Dinah Lane Theatre Arts Fund, over 250 audience members were able to participate in an interactive workshop and view a moving performance of Roxbury Rep's IRNE-nominated production of William Gibson’s play, The Miracle Worker directed by Marshall Hughes. This special event was the culmination of a six month collaborative process between the involved organizations and it marked the start of WCT's and the Arsenal Center's artistic relationship with Roxbury Repertory Theater as well as a continuation of WCT's work with Perkins School for the Blind.

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WCT ASL Interpreter Arlene Velleman opened the day's events with an interactive workshop exploring various forms of signing and the point of view of those who are visually impaired and hard of hearing, including Helen Keller. Following the workshop, the performance of The Miracle Worker featured students from Perkins School for the Blind. Ms. Velleman was artistically woven into the staging, serving as a "spectral" ASL Interpreter throughout the entire performance. Five of the performers were children, three of whom were blind or visually impaired students from Perkins School for the Blind. The entire ensemble of children and adults was multi-racial, with colorblind casting.

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This unique afternoon served many purposes for WCT. As WCT's Producing Artistic Director Peyton Pugmire explains, "So many communities were united under this event's umbrella and benefitted from the collaboration. Not only did the original cast get to re-stage a successful work and explore it once again, but WCT and the ACA were able to re-connect with Perkins and start a brand new relationship with Roxbury Repertory Theatre. Through the talk-back after the show with the cast, the audience had the opportunity to learn more about the play's characters and the challenges of those who are blind and/or hard of hearing. The workshop was a hands-on experience to get inside the shoes of those who are challenged all of their lives by the act of communicating."

In the future, WCT hopes to collaborate again in shows or workshops with Roxbury Rep. They also hope to continue working with Perkins School for the Blind, which it did for years when ASL signing was a key piece of all of WCT's musicals and its choreography.

Peyton Pugmire explained that a program such as this "fits a key element of (WCT's) mission, which is to be an inclusive, culturally diverse theatre company with artistic opportunities for everyone."

For more information about this CBACT Member Theater, visit cbact.org or contact Watertown Children's Theatre:

Watertown Children's Theatre
617-926-ARTS (2787)
info@watertownchildrenstheatre.org

All photos by Brian Crete