Karin Shaw Anderson, Dallas; August 4, 2005
A talented 16-year-old schoolgirl in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A., has battled her blindness by becoming a stage performer.
Brittany King's vision began failing about two years ago. Repeatedly detaching retinas and accumulating scar tissue have left Brittany completely blind in her left eye and without peripheral vision and normal sight in her right. The cause of her visual problems has baffled Brittany's doctors. She compensates onstage and off by working harder.
"She doesn't walk around there like a visually impaired person," said her mother, Joyce Campbell. "You wouldn't know it, seeing her on the street. She acts just as normal as everyone else, until you notice things, like she can't see to read this or she needs a magnifier to read that."
During auditions for a show titled The Wiz , Brittany stood in the shadows with a magnifying glass scanning the script and then recited lines from memory for the judges.
"She came to the first rehearsal already knowing most of her lines," said Joann Traylor, president of the board of the Garland Civic Theatre and choreographer for its Children On Stage production of. "She never says, 'I can't'."
"Other people can forget a line and easily look down at their script and pick it up," Ms. King explained. "It's just more inconvenient for me to have stop and look through a magnifier and look through the script. So I just got all the lines down before we started rehearsing so it wouldn't be so difficult."
When other actors dropped a line during rehearsals, Brittany was quick to the rescue. Her co-stars returned the kindness, she said. "In the dark, backstage, it is very difficult," Ms. King said. "I have to feel around, and every now and then I run into things.
"I just have to whisper and find someone to help me, and they're really good about finding props and things for me."
Ms. King counts steps and memorises the location of props onstage to negotiate scenes during performances.
The young actress shrugs off praise but says she was born with a knack for such compensations. "I catch on to a lot of things really quickly," she said.