The Williams Baptist University theatre program will close its 2017-18 season with Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky.” The production will run Thursday, April 5, and Friday, April 6, in WBU’s Old Chapel.
The play tells the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt and 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.
When 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 theories.
“It is very similar to the story behind ‘Hidden Figures,’” explained Melinda Williams, director of the production. “It tells the story of women who made great contributions in the field of science and astronomy.”
The director went on to add that the plot also involves the conflict of balancing personal and professional lives. “This conflict is something that we all deal with and apparently have for centuries,” Williams noted.
Appearing in the production are Allison Turbyeville of Black Rock, MaKenzie Free of Beebe, Kristin Britt of Chandler, Tex., Melanie McKuin of Dexter, Mo., and Luke Windham of Capetown, South Africa.
“Portraying characters based on real people presents new challenges to the actors,” Williams said. “It turns into a wonderful teaching experience.”
Admission to the play will be $5 general public and $3 for senior citizens and students. Curtain time is set for 7:30 p.m. each night.
Williams is a Christian university in Walnut Ridge. It will officially become Williams Baptist University in July.