A Luminous Tribute to Women & Scientific Discovery
This September, Ellipse Theatre Community (ETC) will tour Silent Sky by acclaimed playwright Lauren Gunderson on select dates from September 8 through 24.
Decades before the ‘Hidden Figures’ made famous by the Academy Award-nominated film, astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921) and her female colleagues at the Harvard Observatory acted as “human computers,” using math and astronomical devices to study a star’s position and brightness, so they could chart the skies. Without ever being allowed to touch a telescope — a task prohibited to women at the turn of the 20th century — Leavitt developed a method to estimate the distance from the earth to a star based on its brightness, now called The Period-Luminosity law. Because of this, Levitt and her team were responsible in discovering more than 2,400 variable stars and paved the way for modern astronomy.
Juliah Rae directs Annie Tappouni, Susanna Harrison, Betsy Alexander Mason, Christina Reynolds and Mark Baron in Gunderson’s fictionalized biography that is filled with an irresistible combination of humor, romance, feminism, music and universal Truths.
“We are still in the unfortunate rut of under-opportunity and under-representation for women in the sciences and tech,” Gunderson said. “This play aims to expose and challenge that angering trend with a true story of a woman who changed the course of astronomy and, to the extent that astronomy defines us as a civilization, human life. And she did it in a room with several other brilliant but underpaid, sequestered, unappreciated woman mathematicians.”
This production is part of ETC’s ongoing Roadshow Program that seeks to present highly mobile, quality productions throughout Central Oregon. “This is our mission at work,” says Craig Brauner, ETC president and founding member. “Rather than expecting the community to come to us, we are bringing our productions and programs to them. Accessibility to the arts is so important and it is key to us that we continually provide that.” Performances of Silent Sky will occur at various venues throughout Bend, Prineville, La Pine, Sisters, and Redmond. A complete list of dates and locations can be found on ETC’s website (etcbend.org). This program is made possible in part by generous support and funding from the Deschutes Cultural Coalition.
The creative team for Silent Sky includes set designer Randy Heise, lighting designer Eric Denzler, costume designer Debra Fisher, sound designer Barb Rich, props designers Ann Marie Anderson, Susie Hughes, Rob Albin and the production stage manager is Jeannie Whittle and production assistant Alexandra Cerussi.
Visit etcbend.org for performance dates and locations.