‘Silent Sky’ rehearsals underway

UF theater play will run Sept. 21-25 

By Larissa Holmes

The play “Silent Sky,” the adventures of Henrietta Leavitt’s scientific discoveries, is set to reach for the stars on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the John and Hester Powell Grimm Theatre in the Frank J. Egner Center for the Performing Arts. But before audiences can be rocketed into space, actors and production have been hard at work with rehearsals and set-up.

The play follows the real life adventures of Leavitt, an astronomer who worked at Harvard University, as she broke ground with new studies and scientific discoveries. In addition to her professional life, we can expect to see her navigating her personal life and family commitments.

“Silent Sky” will be led by guest director, Margaret Anich, a full-time faculty member at the Lima Department of Theater at The Ohio State University. Since auditions started on Aug. 23, she and the students have been hard at work bringing Lauren Gunderson’s production to life. With three-hour practices every day since the start of classes.

Anich admits that the turn-around time has been quick, but she has been really impressed with their dedication and hard work.

“I have been thoroughly impressed with these undergraduates,” Anich remarks. “It’s a short, intense rehearsal process. They’ve been really dedicated and committed.”

It’s not unusual for quick, short rehearsal periods for professional actors, yet for students it can be harder to pull it off. In addition to rehearsals, they also have to deal with classes and homework. According to Anich, the students are doing well for their time frame and their dialogue-heavy scripts.

Tabitha Kittle, playing the title character of Henrietta, has really liked the chance to work with the production’s guest director. For her, it has been a new experience working with someone she’s not familiar with, just like professionals.

“It’s kind of like a taste of what it will be like in the future,” Kittle says, “You’ll go in and audition for someone you’ve never met before and then work with them for several weeks on a show.”

For Abigail Bumbledare, cast as Annie Cannon, she finds the opportunity a great chance to portray a real-life character. She finds the historical aspect unique, yet also a bit of a challenge. The woman she plays is a very stern woman, unlike Bumbledare’s own personality.

“It’s been a bit of a stretch,” she comments. “But it’s always good to try different parts. As an actor, you really have to be committed to the part.”

Kittle hopes those who come to see the play will enjoy their glimpse into history and perhaps learn something that they didn’t have in their textbooks.

“These women did incredible things in their time period that not many women could do because they were women,” Kittle shares, “They really created some out-of-the-box things.”

The show will run from Sept. 21-25.

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