Helen Keller has often been portrayed as a silent 12-year-old girl who became a American icon for her ability to overcome her disabilities. This past weekend, John Orman, chair of the politics department, portrayed Keller differently.

In his newly released play ‘Helen Keller Speaks,’ Orman showed that there is more to remember Keller for than the disabilities that bound her.

‘The play was about the radical side of Helen Keller,’ said Orman.

Because of the popular drama production of ‘The Miracle Worker,’ Keller has been frozen in people’s minds as a deaf and blind girl who overcame her severe disabilities to learn to communicate.

‘We have been robbed of our historical understanding of who Helen Keller really was,’ said Orman in a press release.

After reading the book ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ Orman quickly discovered that Keller was also an activist.

Keller was, ‘a socialist, an anti-war activist, a supporter of the International Workers of the World and a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union,’ said Orman in a press release last month.

Orman recruited actress and Fairfield aluma, January LaVoy, who plays Noelle Ortiz on the popular ABC soap opera ‘One Life to Live,’ to play Keller.

‘Helen Keller was incredibly articulate, with a biting wit. It was really quite thrilling to read her words,’ said LaVoy in a New York Times article. ‘As a woman of color, I am thrilled to be able to portray Helen Keller; it’s a huge honor. If Helen Keller looked at me the way she did ‘- through her hands ‘- she would never know the color of me nor would she care.’

Orman was struck by Keller’s foresight in that many of what Keller had to say over a hundred years ago about economic equality and social justice, relates to the current state of the world.

Orman pulled together speeches and letters documenting Keller’s social and political involvement in his play ‘Helen Keller Speaks.’ It combines facets of a play with elements of a dramatic reading and is one more example of how Orman pursues his interests beyond the walls of a politics class.

‘The performance was fantastic,’ said Orman.’

Orman was not only thankful for LaVoy’s involvement, but also the help of Ryan McKinner, a Fairfield graduate who directed the play. As a student, McKinney was involved in Theatre Fairfield.

Orman, already an author of several books including ‘Celebrity Politics,’ ‘Politics of Rock Music’ and ‘Presidential Accountability: New and Recurring Problems,’ he now adds playwright to his resume.

Orman urged his audience in a press release to, ‘listen to the real Keller’s words. You rooted for her to be able to communicate. Now listen what she had to say.’

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