OBU Theatre will present “Silent Sky” by Lauren Gundersen Oct. 30-Nov. 8 in Shawnee Hall’s Craig-Dorland Theatre on the University’s campus in Shawnee. Showtimes are Oct. 30 and 31 and Nov. 5, 6, and 7 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 1 and 8 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are now on sale online or by phone at (405) 585-4350. Adults are $12 and students are $5. Advance purchase is required as seats will be assigned in family/friend groups to maintain physical distancing.
Set in the early 1900’s, “Silent Sky” is based on the true story of Henrietta Leavitt (1868-1921). In the year 1900, Henrietta is delighted when she is hired to join the team at the Harvard College Observatory. However, she soon finds that as a woman, she is not allowed to actually participate in scientific exploration or even touch a telescope. Along with the other women “computers,” Henrietta spends her days measuring star charts while male supervisors receive credit for discoveries the women make. Undaunted, Henrietta uses her free time to measure the light and distance of stars, all while trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and romance.
The play is under the direction of Dr. Hephzibah Dutt, assistant professor of theatre and director of theatre. She likewise serves as the costume designer. The cast is comprised of OBU students, including junior accounting major Emma Greathouse as Henrietta Leavitt, junior theatre major Anna Smolen as Margaret Leavitt, junior theatre major Erin Wilson as Annie Canon, sophomore English and secondary education major Kennedy Largent as Williamina Fleming, and senior theatre major Garrett Wheeler as Peter Shaw.
Annalise Caudle, adjunct professor of theatre design, served as the scenic designer, scenic charge artist, lighting designer, and master electrician. She has worked as a professional in regional theatres all over the United States, most recently in New York City.
Dutt believes the themes within the play are especially pertinent at this time in history.
“As an artist, I believe that the stories we bring to the stage should reflect the hearts, struggles and stories of our communities,” Dutt said. “This became especially pertinent this year as the spring came with a pandemic, and the summer exploded with racial tension that eventually simmered into an autumnal cloud of unease, sorrow, and, for many, despair. In the midst of this, I was reminded that any story of victory over oppression has been the story of harmony emerging out of agony. Not despite the agony, not next to it, but because of the headlong engagement that happens when people step up and push back against oppressive forces presented by nature, individuals or society.”
“Harmony amidst the agony. This is the story of ‘Silent Sky,’” she added.
Emma Greathouse expressed her enthusiasm for playing Henrietta Leavitt in the production.
“‘Silent Sky’ is such a wonderful story, and the chance to be involved with the process of bringing this show to life at OBU has been challenging but rewarding,” she said. “The story has impacted me and the way I view God’s glorious creation, and I hope and pray that it impacts the audience in that way, too. The wonder of God’s creation is so huge that it’s impossible to comprehend and way beyond whatever I can expect or imagine.”
Kennedy Largent, playing Williamina Fleming, expressed similar feelings for her part.
“This character is everything I hope to be. Performing with the OBU Theatre ensemble has been inspiring, and I feel so blessed,” she said.
A large number of students comprise the production’s crew, making the show possible for the audience to enjoy. These students and their positions include Emili Ramos - technical director; Larashleigh Wallace - stage manager and assistant scenic designer; Bayleigh Platter - assistant director; Kendra Johnson – dramaturg; Rachel Campbell - props master; Garrett Wheeler - sound designer; Emma Greathouse - costume coordinator; Gracie Jackson - assistant stage manager; Augie Mathews - ALD/AME; Anna Smolen - assistant costume coordinator; Rachel Campbell - deck crew head; Gracie Jackson - fly crew head; Bayleigh Platter - wardrobe crew head; Zoe Burdess - wardrobe crew; Natalie Bright - wardrobe crew; Ashlee Ginn - wardrobe crew; Erin Wilson - wigs and makeup; Jordan Evans - sound board operator; Rachel Hauser - light board operator; Emily Russell - follow spot operator; Kendra Johnson - public relations coordinator; Grace Smith - box office manager; and Nathan Goforth - house manager.
Tickets may be purchased online or by phone at (405) 585-4350. Advance ticket purchase is required. In order to maintain social distancing, OBU Theatre will assign seats to family/friend groups as tickets are purchased, according to the number of tickets sold in a single order. Seat assignment will be emailed. Audience members are requested to wear masks throughout their time inside campus buildings. Please do not arrive more than 30 minutes prior to the show.