Friday, October 5, 2018

UIS Theatre to produce Lauren Gunderson’s play “Silent Sky”

The Theatre Program at the University of Illinois Springfield will present Lauren Gunderson’s play “Silent Sky” opening Friday, October 19.

Six performances will be presented in the Studio Theatre, on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center at UIS, on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Oct. 19, 20, 21 and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Oct. 25, 26, 27. All shows will begin at 7:30 p.m., except the Sunday performance (Oct. 21), which will begin at 2 p.m.

The play chronicles the life of Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the real women "computers" working at the dawn of modern astronomy. “Silent Sky” is a celestial romance and true story of discovery.

According to Dramatists Play Service, “When Henrietta Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women ‘computers,’ charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in ‘girl hours’ and has no time for the women’s probing theories. As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love. The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.”

Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, UIS associate professor of theatre, will direct the production. Dathan Powell, UIS associate professor of theatre, will be the scenic designer and technical director. UIS Theatre student and Sangamon Auditorium stage hand David Hecht is the lighting designer. There are two guest artists involved in this production: Dave Cain of UMedia is the sound designer and Lauren Lowell, associate professor of costume design at Illinois State University, is the costume designer.

The cast includes UIS students Dominique Abiagom, Ethan Heilman, Shea Lanier and Sherri Mitchell with community member Ashley Pruitt playing the role of Henrietta Leavitt. UIS students Aislinn Diaz and Katie Simpson serve as understudies.

Ticket prices are $14 for adults; $12 for senior citizens (65 or older with a picture I.D.); $10 for UIS Faculty/Staff; $8 for UIS students (and all other college-level students) with a valid, current i-card or college I.D. card; and $6 for 17 and under. Please note that service charges are not included in the prices above.

The UIS Theatre Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Visual and Performing Arts Building (VPA 127). Patrons may call the UIS Theatre Box Office at 217/206-PLAY (7529) or visit to purchase tickets online or learn more information.

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