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- Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker at the Stratford Festival
Etobicoke Guardian - June 1998
by Kerry Corrigan
Writing OAC exams can be stressful for anyone. Imagine that the same week you have to write English and Calculus, you are also opening at the Stratford Festival in two plays. Now imagine that you have the lead, as deaf, dumb and blind kid Helen Keller in one of those plays, The Miracle Worker.
Nineteen-year old Trish Lindstrom is calm and philosophical about the career she’s carving.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges I think I have ever had to face, but I’m enjoying it so much. It forces me to put all my concentration into it, there’s no two ways about it. I have to be completely focussed on what I’m doing, otherwise you can’t believe that she’s deaf, dumb and blind.”
Trish feels that her education at Etobicoke’s High School for the Arts helped get her where she is, along with a resume that stretches back to her debut at the Young People’s Theatre when she was eleven.
A tutor comes now to administer her calculus test and her drama teacher gave her third term credits after she came and “marked” her performances!
Trish believes that even those who don’t go on to performance careers from her school have an advantage over other academic students from other high schools because the creativity is so high. “The arts really allows us to let go and just be honest and creative, and that really helps with the academics.”
She cites teachers like Gabby Kamino in modern dance and math, Maryanne Derow in music theatre and Barbara Young in theatre, who make the Etobicoke School for the Arts such a creative place.
The modern dance in particular helped with the incredibly physical performance Trish gives as the handicapped youth, plus movement and voice coaches, and instinct. The slim, pretty blonde who sat in the interview disappears on stage into a grabbing, stumbling child whose needs are so heart breaking.
“This is probably the most emotionally draining show that I’ll ever do because this character is so intense, every emotion is so raw and there. After the show, I’m absolutely exhausted, emotionally and physically. It feels great!”
“The journey that Helen Keller takes in the show is just enormous, unbelievable. Before I start the show I think ‘Oh my gosh, I have to get there
!’” The end scene is the difficult one for her but Trish stresses that “having the weight of the show behind me helps me get to that place.”
Cynthia Dale, best known for her role on TV’s Street Legal, plays gutsy Annie Sullivan, the feisty Irish tutor who commits herself to awakening Helen’s communication skills. Trish feels that it helped having an actress who was famous to play her tutor, as it reinforced the teacher-pupil relationship.
She also enjoys her small role as a schoolgirl in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and even the position of understudy (to stutterer Mary MacGregor) is a thrill and a terrific learning experience
Trish grew up in North York and attended Claude Watson School for the Arts before picking Etobicoke School for the Arts for musical theatre, a place where dance may be used to illustrate formulas in math class. She has done some TV work and some movies in Toronto, and admits that voice and piano were always her strong points before she started acting. Getting into one of the musicals at Stratford would also be a great thrill.
But for now she is making the most of the chance she’s been given. “Not many people get this opportunity. I’m the luckiest girl in the world!
// tie dye