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The Little Theater Company

The Little Theater Company
Posted on 04/24/2019
Two Roads Charter School students Holden Hanou (left) and Vienne Noel (right) perform a scene from “The Miracle Worker” in the school gym.It was just a few hours before curtain time, even though there was no curtain to speak of at Two Roads Charter School in Arvada. But in every other aspect, this black box staging of “The Miracle Worker” in the gym, had as much heart, sweat, and painstaking preparation as any other student production in Jeffco. The Two Roads company is a tight bunch, as evidenced by the clowning around in the makeup room that helps ease any pre-show jitters.

“The students that are directly involved include nine actors and roughly 15 tech members,” explained theater teacher Emily Sullivan. “We also have a number of parent volunteers, and we have teachers that get on board. “

“On a Saturday, we all come in, and we spend from like nine to five we set up the entire set. It's a really collaborative thing,” added student Vienne Noel. “It’s always really fun because we get to know people on the tech crew that we didn’t know before. Just makes it really fun.”

“The Miracle Worker” is the 13th production for Sullivan, who uses creativity in set, costume, prop, and sound design to compensate for a lack of resources common to other school theater departments in the district. She says using the gym as a highly visible staging space has a number of advantages.

“The students all see it come together and they want to get involved,” she said. I” have students that I’ve never met before coming to me saying ‘Mrs. Sullivan, how can I help, what can I do to help?’”

“It’s just clear how much she loves theater and how much love and work that she puts into the whole production and into us acting it for her,” add student Ian Stonecypher. “It’s just very rewarding.”

For the demanding role of Hellen Keller, Sullivan taped a newcomer.

“I had a sixth-grader come into auditions who blew me away, and I had never met before,” Sullivan explained. “Her name is Holden Hanou. She is just brilliant and amazing and intuitive and smart and obviously talented.”

“I never truly knew about the part and what it was like,” said Hanou. “We did a couple of practices, blindfolded me, we went through the play, and I felt things and tried to figure out what the objects were.”

Sullivan chose “The Miracle Worker” because of the challenge it posed for her actors and tech crew, and because of the inspirational message, it carries about the power of education in changing Helen Keller's life.

“Her accomplishments are hers for sure, but without the help of her teacher, she never would’ve been able to accomplish the things that she was able to,” said Sullivan. “That’s a really special relationship that is very clearly characterized within this play between a student who’s truly struggling and their teacher who is able to unlock them.”

“Many people underestimate the power of knowledge and sign language and Braille,” added Hanou. “A lot of it is very powerful. You can learn so much like Helen Keller. Anybody can do anything. You really can.”

Once the final performance was complete, the little theater company will turn its attention towards making the gym a gym once more.

“It kind of makes us sad at the end when we take it down and come back Monday morning, and it's all gone. Oh, it’s really over,” said Noel.

“I want my audience to walk away feeling as if they witnessed something special,” added Sullivan. “That they saw energy. That they saw kids creating art.”

See the JPS-TV version of this story here or below.

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