The rehearsals for Silent Sky are anything but silent.
It is a pleasure to watch these five talented actors bring their historic characters to life in the rehearsal hall. Developing a character of history is not an easy task, but they are passionate about their roles. They have studied the late 1800’s when women astronomers were hired by Harvard University as “assistants” and required to use a magnifying glass to perform research, which led to the discovery of star composition. Their scribbled log book and notes were ground breaking in astronomy and changed who could do this scientific research.
The actors bring humor to rehearsals for this serious history in science. They support each other, not to just keep the script on cue, but share laughter for forgotten lines and creative ad-libs along the way. This is enhanced by Director Sean Daniels, who blends in with his unique style of humor. Sean also has a keen imagination – when the scene is about a holiday he asks the actors to think about how their family would ask them to come home, which brings about sharing from the actors and real-life perspective to the scene.
The actors follow an outline on the floor which represents the stage. There are some props, others are “pretended” for now. The actors wear pieces of their costumes to be “in character” which can be challenging because they are both in the play period and the now. They have known their lines for a long time, becoming their character in style, dialect and persona has been the challenge.
The actors share insight about scenes with the director which becomes a series of repetitions and patience shifting a scene. There is professional respect between the actors and director which is so needed for the success of going from rehearsals to the stage. There is also a supportive, talented crew hovering over all that is needed for the play. And too, playwright Lauren Gunderson sits quietly and watches her work unfold by these talented artists.
The actors recently made an appearance at UMass Lowell with astrophysics faculty and astronomy club and also chatted with WCAP radio host. Lauren Gunderson’s interview about the play is on the MRT website. So, this production is not just about learning lines in the rehearsal hall, it is about creating a realistic reflection of this brilliant contribution to science by women.
–Gail Gauthier, Cohort
Silent Sky runs October 18 – November 12