Written by Jasey Roberts
On Thursday, May 6, through Saturday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m., Theatre Roanoke College will be holding a performance of Laura Gunderson’s “Silent Sky.” The show will take place in Olin Hall with a maximum occupancy of 45 seats. It will also be streamed online – people can register their device on ShowTix4U.
This will be the final TRC show to be directed by Dr. Lisa Warren, a veteran associate professor of fine arts. It stars Sarah Jane Ruppert, Tess Weidenkopf, Grace DuPre and Elle Crawford. The show centers on the true-life story of Henrietta Leavitt, an astronomer from the early twentieth century, who lived during a time when women weren’t considered fit for the field of astronomy. Leavitt and women like her weren’t allowed to touch a telescope, much less to express an original idea about the cosmos.
Leavitt was hired on as a “computer,” or a woman who stayed up late doing nothing but charting stars. She went on to discover the relationship between a star’s distance to earth and the level of light that exudes from it, only to have her ideas dismissed by male astronomers.
“We started rehearsing the first week of April, and it was about two weeks of us doing cold readings,” said actress and dramaturg Weidenkopf. “Just like getting a feel for the characters. Trying to put it together and figure out who we are. It was also like me getting to know everyone. After that, it was staging and we’re just about to go into tech week.”
Weidenkopf added, grinning, “It’s stressful, but it’s like at the end where you start to feel everything come together, and you think, ‘This could actually work! This might actually be really really good!’”