Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s season continues, and the theme of examining the “often overlooked” seems to prevail, with Silent Sky, directed by Tamara Winters. Silent Sky retells the true story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, a “human computer” hired by the Harvard Observatory to perform complex calculations for the male astronomers.
Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s works are not unfamiliar to the Cincinnati stages — Know produced Toil and Trouble several years ago and Playhouse in the Park just closed The Revolutionists this season. Silent Sky ties together themes of scientific discovery, feminism, romance and the bond of sisterhood, and a star-studded cast brings together an intensely promising performance.
Maggie Lou Rader heads the ensemble as Henrietta Leavitt, flanked by Annie Fitzpatrick and Regina Pugh, two additional “computers” at Harvard. Miranda McGee returns to the Know Mainstage as Henrietta’s sister, Margaret, providing a fierce sisterly love and support. Justin McCombs joins the cast as Peter Shaw, the rival-turned-romance who pushes Henrietta’s quest for discovery.
Equally exciting is the show’s director & Know’s Associate Artistic Director, Tamara Winters, who has brought highly regarded productions to the Know stages in the past: Bureau of Missing Persons, Hearts Like Fists, and, most recently, All Childish Things. Winters believes the show is incredibly timely, as women are still underrepresented within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) fields. “Henrietta Leavitt’s role in the history of astronomy has largely been forgotten, and overshadowed by the men whose work would later be made possible by her discovery–a fate sadly familiar to many high-achieving women. The time is right for us to shine a light on her work, and by extension, shine a light on the fierce and brilliant spirits that drive trailblazing women to succeed,” says Winters.
Know Theatre is combating the gender inequalities within STEM by inviting tri-state students to special performances of Silent Sky, preceded by a panel of Greater Cincinnati women working in STEM fields. Know is also collaborating with & bringing attention to The Cincinnati Observatory, the Birthplace of American Astronomy.
Artistic Director Andrew Hungerford also serves as scenic & lighting designer for the show. With the entire realm of space & astronomy as the backdrop for the production, it is very interesting and promising to note that Hungerford himself studied astrophysics in undergrad. Hungerford notes, “the synthesis of art and science in this show is beautiful and compelling,” and those who have come to know his creations can expect something inspiring.
Silent Sky is presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati from April 15-May 14, 2016. Tickets are available by calling 513-300-5669