The Miracle Worker

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The Miracle Worker is a 1959 three-act play by American playwright and novelist William Gibson (1914-2008) [1]. It is based on Helen Keller's [2] autobiography The Story of My Life.

See also: Monday After the Miracle

Not to be confused with the Afrikaans film Die Wonderwerker ("The miracle worker", 2012)

The original text

The play explores the relationship between Hellen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, adapted from a television play Gibson had written in 1957. The play premiered on Broadway at the Playhouse Theatre on October 19, 1959, and opened in the West End , London in 1961. The 1962 film won multiple Oscars for author, director and cast.

Translations and adaptations


Translated into Afrikaans as Die Wonderwerk ("The Miracle"), by Pieter-Paul Fourie. The text has never been published.

The text of another Afrikaans translation (by Fanus Mocke) and also called Die Wonderwerk, is held by Dalro[3].

NOTE: The direct Afrikaans translation of the title (i.e. as Die Wonderwerker) has funnily enough never been used for the play. However, that title was later used for the impressive 2012 film by Katinka Heyns about an incident in the life of the poet, journalist and naturalist Eugène Marais.


The play has been filmed a number of times (e.g. 1962, 1979, and 2000)[4].

Performance history in South Africa

1961: Produced by the Cockpit Players, opening at the Hofmeyr Theatre in January and going on a Southern African tour. Directed by Leonard Schach with Joyce Bradley, Fiona Fraser, Joan Gibson, Estelle Kohler, Reinet Maasdorp and Alan Prior. Decor was by Pamela Lewis.

1978: Performed in Afrikaans by PACT in the Breytenbach Theatre, directed by Leonard Schach with Diane Britz, Rika Sennett and Trix Pienaar. Translation by Pieter-Paul Fourie. The playwright was invited to South Africa and attended the rehearsals for the play.

1979: Performed in Afrikaans by CAPAB in the Nico Malan Theatre, opening on 17 April, directed by William Egan with Johan Botha, Brümilda van Rensburg, Marko van der Colff, Melanie-Ann Sher, Liz Dick, Allan Dyssel, Sandra Ferreira, Johan Esterhuizen, Neels Coetzee, Trix Pienaar, Amanda Strydom, Willem de la Querra. Design by Raimond Schoop. Lighting by John T. Baker. Translation by Pieter-Paul Fourie.

1979: The Fourie Afrikaans translation was staged by PACT, directed by Louis van Niekerk, with Diane Britz (Helen Keller), Trudie Taljaard (Anne Sullivan), Rika Sennett (Kate Keller), Louis van Niekerk (Kapt Keller), Annalise Bosch (Tant Ev), Gerben Kamper (James Keller), Alwyn Swart (Dr Anagnos), Michele Cooper (Martha), Jan Menzel (Percy), Marie Hoogenraad (Viney) and others. Decor and costumes by Johan Engels.

1991: The Fourie Afrikaans translation was staged by PACT, directed by Louis van Niekerk, with Ronel Kriel (Helen Keller), Ilse van Hemert (Anne Sullivan), Mitzi Booysen (Kate Keller), Johan Malherbe (Kapt Keller), Christine Basson (Tant Ev), Dirk Stoltz (James Keller), Tjaart Potgieter (Dr Anagnos), Althea Mahery (Martha), Fabian Langerman (Percy), Noria Mabuela (Viney) and others. Designed by Chris van den Berg.


Wikipedia [5]

Inskip, 1977. p 123

Star 18 July 1978.

Die Wonderwerk theatre programme, (CAPAB 1979).

PACT theatre programme, 1979.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Martin 2008.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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