It is my opinion that we could not have chosen a better way to open our 30th Season at the Commonweal than with Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson. We at the Commonweal search for stories that are transcendent and relevant and we hope you agree that this play fit that bill with no exception. As of this writing, Silent Sky has two performances remaining and for this edition of Drama Unfolds, I have asked cast and crew to provide one highlight from the production they know they will always carry with them. Here’s what they had to say.
Elizabeth Dunn (Annie Cannon) — The moment in the show where women’s rights are emphasized (and then later) women getting the right to vote. It’s been a thrill to portray a kick-ass suffragette, who worked so hard to pave the way for future generations of women.
Adrienne Sweeney (Production Director) — Sitting in the audience show after show and hearing/feeling the collective inhale when Henrietta finally sees her “heaven.” Knowing that we were all sharing the same breath at the same time gave me chills every single time.
Eric Lee (Peter Shaw) — My Silent Sky highlight is having been a part of such a moving story. My deepest love is for art that asks of us what we can be. For me, Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky encourages us to find our meaning, our wonder, our “Heaven” where it exists for us, and to recognize that there is much in common in that experience, however it may come about. Our experience of the transcendent, of being part of something bigger than ourselves, may be unique. But I do believe that there is something vital and essential in having it, whether it be through religion or through a profound wonder at the simple fact of existence.
Stela Burdt (Williamina Fleming) — Henrietta’s final monologue and these words specifically: Because wonder will always get us there…Those of us who insist that there is much more beyond ourselves. And I do. And there’s a reason we measure it all in light. Wonder is something I have truly begun to have great belief in. Because I believe it is wonder that will help us solve many challenges we face today, both personal and worldwide. The drive to keep learning, keep discovering, keep on keeping on. And doing it within the greater connected world.
Philip Muehe (Stage Manager) — Henrietta’s line at the end of the play about how Hubble’s telescope, which uses her work, shows us “how vast and beautiful it all is.” The fact that she had NO idea how her work, dedication, and hardship would lead to the beautiful discoveries and knowledge we take for granted now, hits me so hard every performance. It always puts things in perspective for me. Keep plugging away y’all.
Abbie Cathcart (Margaret Leavitt) — I love the last scene in which Margaret’s piano playing helps Henrietta make her big discovery about the Cepheid stars. Up until this point in the story, Henrietta had logged thousands of hours studying these stars. She knew them intimately, but it wasn’t until she heard the music that she was able to think of them in a different way and then make her discovery. I love this scene because I feel like playwright Lauren Gunderson is reminding us that art does not merely decorate more serious endeavors, but rather plays an important role in human progress.