Lipscomb Theatre is hosting several showings of “Silent Sky,” which depicts a woman’s struggle with balancing her faith and with her love for science.
Published in 2015, the play is based on the story of astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt. The story takes place in the early 1900s, when Leavitt started working as a volunteer assistant at the Harvard Observatory.
Gunderson tells the story of Leavitt and other women who were treated as human “computers” and how they were not allowed to do the same things as men. They were given limited responsibilities and were not allowed to help in “men’s work,” like using telescopes.
In the play, Leavitt is struggling to get recognition as a serious astronomer in her field. For a long time, Leavitt worked on her own to make discoveries. Gunderson shows that despite the obstacles Leavitt and her peers faced within society, with hard work and dedication, they managed to succeed.
Lipscomb Theatre Department Chair and Director of “Silent Sky” Beki Baker shared that the reason she chose this play is that she wanted to honor women who never had their moment in the limelight.
“It’s about cherishing women in our history who have maybe been lost because we just [didn’t] know their names and their stories very well,” she said.
Baker said that even though it is a story based on a historical person, it is still relevant today because this play is about equality and about women’s rights. Baker also mentioned that they had not worked with female playwrights often, so she and the Theatre department wanted to make sure they gave different voices on the stage.
Baker said that working with a small cast was they became a team and got to know each other well. The cast consisted of lead Merrie Shearer, Lauren Yawn, Brooke Bethel, Annika Burley, and Sam Kell, the only male in the play.
Shearer, said that portraying Leavitt was an “incredible” and “inspirational” experience.
“Whether people give me credit or not…I still have to follow that calling and find the answers that I know are there,” Shearer said.
Spectatosr Cassidy Haberts and Gale Falcon both said they enjoyed “Silent Sky.”
“I love how much they showed what women did for astronomy to get to where we are now and how it started somewhere,” Haberts said. “It’s wonderful to know the stories that are not being told and we got to see it tonight, and that was awesome.”
“It was so touching because we do not know enough about the women that made this world,” Falcon said.
Falcon also said she related to Henrietta and her sister Margaret Leavitt, who often clashed with their different views on God and science,
“I knew there was a God, but at the same time, I knew there was a whole different world and it was a clash of who was the power and (the play) showed that two sisters with different beliefs made it work, that both had their heaven,” she said.
Silent Sky still has multiple shows left, including Feb. 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm in Shamblin Theatre. The Feb. 24 show will be at 2:30 pm.