Community Players’ regular 2021 season-opening show, “Silent Sky”, looks to tell the true story of a 19th-century astronomer and a group of women computers as they chart the stars and explore a women’s place in scientific discoveries.
“Henrietta Leavitt was an astronomer in the early 1900s, who worked at Harvard at a time when women were just relegated to doing math in the attic for the men in the department,” said Jamie Ulmer, Community Players’ managing artistic director. “Her and a couple of the other characters who are historically significant and real, they all came up with these terrific scientific discoveries, even though they weren’t allowed to explore those ideas.”
The story focuses on history and science, but Ulmer said it also manages to be funny, dramatic, romantic and, of course, smart.
Playing Henrietta Leavitt is Morgan Tunink in her first leading role at Community Players.
Tunink said it was a challenge learning the correct pronunciations of scientific words and being on stage for most of the runtime, but called Henrietta an amazing character to play.
“We never learned about who she is as a person, because we just don’t learn about women in science from that era,” Tunink said. “So hearing her story is really fantastic, and she’s got a great one.”
Ulmer said part of the show covers Henrietta’s life during World War I. He said given the many unpredicted events that happened globally this year, a theme people can take away from the show is that making discoveries, scientific or not, is inevitable even during a crisis or catastrophe.
“One of the things in the show is overcoming challenges and adversities,” Ulmer said. “The character Henrietta was presented with so many challenges that a lot of people would have just given up on. She wanted to study the stars and do the work, and society at the time told her she couldn’t do it, that it wasn’t her place and she should just get married. But she chose her own path.”
Ulmer said the theater has taken extra precautions with staging the show due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the show will not always follow social distancing guidelines, noting that two actors kiss during the show, but that they are also dating in real life.
“There’s sanitizer galore backstage, and everyone is doing everything that they can to maintain a very, very safe environment,” Ulmer said.
Community Players has COVID-19 restrictions, including limited seating, and will only sell pre-packaged concessions, and the audience will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked when entering the theater. One performance of the play will also be recorded and available for online viewing from Sept. 14-20 to allow people wanting to stay home, or those who live far away, to still see the show.
The show runs Sept. 11-12 and 18-19 at 7:30 p.m., and Sept. 13 and 20 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students, and streaming tickets are $10.
Tickets can be reserved at the box office, located at 412 Ella St., or by calling 402-228-1801. To efficiently seat all patrons with social distance guidelines, online sales are temporarily suspended.
Online tickets can be pre-ordered at vimeo.com/ondemand/silentsky
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