SS1: Stars In The Universe

“You’ve been the brightest object in my day and we work with stars.”

Peter Shaw, Silent Sky

Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky is a play about Henrietta Leavitt between the years of 1900-1920. Her work at the Harvard Observatory distances her from family, romance, a chance for a normal life, and she becomes a real “computer”. The playwright describes it as “a love story between sisters, friends, colleagues, and with the stars. Henrietta is a badass who learns about the stars even without a telescope!” Lauren Gunderson actually wants to use Arizona Theatre Company as a vehicle to share her arts, her talents, and her feminist statement, including an all-female cast of Hamlet!

This was the first read-through of script, and the actors really achieved and excelled in bringing life to the script. There was such an energy in the room, and it was all because of the actors. I got to meet with Veronika who plays the lead character Henrietta, and she was personally chosen by the playwright Lauren Gunderson and the Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) director Casey Stangl. I asked about her artistic preparation as an actor before the first read-through and to play this role, expecting a detailed answer. She responded that she just familiarized herself with the rhythm and the beats of the script.

This answer also surprised me because the relationships between the characters already felt so solid, the atmosphere so clear and inspired, that I thought the actors had definitely met before! I am so excited to meet all of the actors, to learn about their process, and to hopefully build relationships with them, just like I had the opportunity with the actors in The Royale. Interestingly, Silent Sky also has five characters, just like The Royale, except it is an opposite with 4 females and 1 male (another cohort mentioned this to me).

The audience will be looking at the sky and building a personal relationship with it throughout the play. It is a clear that the stars are another character with a language and a personality. The light designer and the other artists will have a responsibility to create this language for Gunderson’s narrative. ATC’s Artistic Director Sean Daniels introduced the Cohort club as 20 Tucsonian individuals who are educated about the artistic process and then share the energy with the community.

Silent Sky taught me that we are not a computers; that we need to be open to opportunities and to be awake for the moments that life presents us.

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