Theatre department showcases women’s history with performance of ‘Silent Sky’

Members of the SVSU theatre department rehearse for their production of “Silent Sky” by Lauren Gunderson. Vanguard Photographer | Ryan Pelletier

The SVSU theatre department performed “Silent Sky” from Feb. 23-27.

This was a play following the life of Henrietta Leavitt, an astronomer who faced challenges as a woman in a male-dominated field at the dawn of the 20th Century.

Alyssa Yankee, a theatre and marketing senior, played the leading role of Henrietta Leavitt.

She said the audience really could connect to the characters.

“This show is full of humor, love and amazing characters,” Yankee said.

Yankee also said that the play is relevant today because it can be an inspiration to women in today’s world.

“This play is relevant because it shows the role of women in a place where they were not always accepted,” Yankee said. “The persistence and passion of the female characters in this show is something that modern women may feel connected to today when trying to pave their path in the world.”

Jennifer Lothian, a professor of theatre, served as a costume design mentor for the show. She said being a mentor is both a challenging and rewarding position.

“[As a mentor] you are wearing three hats at once– that of a teacher, that of a designer, and that of an audience member– and then communicating ideas and feedback from all of those points of view,” Lothian said. “Mentoring brings together my love of teaching and passion for costume design, and seeing that passion ignited in others and seeing them grow in front of me is truly rewarding.”

Lothian said this play is important because it teaches about resilience in a world full of challenges we humans must overcome throughout our lives. She also said that costume design was crucial to the success of the show because it helps shape the setting and the world the story is taking place in.

“Costume informs time period, season and other practical information, but also information in terms of emotion,” Lothian said. “What a person chooses to wear informs a lot about how they feel about themselves, the environments they are exposed to, and the connections they make to others. It’s incredible to capture that in a character on stage.”

Lita Weekley is a technical writing sophomore who attended the show because she wanted to learn more about the contributions women made to the field of astronomy. She said she noticed signs and advertising for the production and it caught her attention.

“I love how bold and moving the actors portrayed the parts,” Weekley said. “They had extremely convincing acting and were really sassy. The design was [also] incredible. I love space, and I loved how they integrated moving images, smoke and music. The historical and space aspects were fascinating to learn.”

Weekley said she left the show impressed and with new thoughts on the pursuit of one’s dreams.

“The biggest takeaway of the show was to pursue my dream even in adversity, and that sometimes you need to step back from something to figure out how it works,” Weekley said.

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