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silent sky

jan 25 - feb 11, 2024

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by lauren gunderson
 

Directed by Levi Gore

women opening the way to the universe

ABOUT THE PLAY

 

When Henrietta Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women’s probing theories.

 

As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love.

 

The true story of early 20th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.

directors notes

Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson is a play that celebrates the resilience and achievements of women in an era when societal norms confined them to roles deemed inferior to their male counterparts, many of whom secured positions through privilege rather than merit. The tenacity and intelligence these women displayed daily were often overshadowed and unrecognized.

Before reading this play, I, too, was sadly unaware of Henrietta Leavitt, Annie Cannon, and Williamina Fleming and their profound contributions to expanding our understanding of the universe. Despite their groundbreaking work significantly influencing mainstream understanding, they remain largely unacknowledged to this day. Upon reading the play, Lauren Gunderson's storytelling resonated deeply. It's a compelling narrative filled with heart, humor, and depth, shedding light on an era of evolving ideals and scientific growth, yet one where these women and their profound contributions went unnoticed and unheralded. Their unheard stories, expanding our knowledge and understanding, deeply resonated with me, compelling me to bring their narrative to light.

During the early 20th century, women like Leavitt and Cannon navigated a labyrinth of barriers. Their exceptional work in astronomy stood in stark contrast to the limitations imposed by a male-dominated field that marginalized their achievements. Henrietta faced the additional challenge of progressive deafness, which began in her youth and gradually worsened over time. Yet her brilliance shone undimmed, further emphasizing these women's remarkable strength and determination. Despite societal constraints and physical impairments, they persisted, challenging norms and expectations, contributing to professional and societal fields, and advocating for the suffragette movement. It's crucial to tell these stories, not just to honor their accomplishments but to showcase the resilience and capability of individuals overcoming adversity, and inspiring future generations.

My vision for Silent Sky extends beyond historical representation; it's an odyssey from the internal to the external. As Henrietta grapples with the vastness of the cosmos, so do we. The production's seamless fusion of lights, set, and sound mirrors this transformative journey. They become our guiding companions, orchestrating a crescendo that parallels Henrietta's personal growth. I aim to illustrate this transition, moving from societal confines to the limitless expanse of scientific exploration, inviting the audience on a journey from 'within' to 'beyond'—echoing the pursuit of knowledge that transcends boundaries.

meet the team

lauren gunderson
-playwright


 

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Lauren Gunderson is an American playwright, screenwriter, and short story author, born in Atlanta. She lives in San Francisco, where she teaches playwriting. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Emory University in 2004, and her Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2009, where she was also a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.

Lauren Gunderson's works heavily focus on female figures in history, science, and literature. She is one of the top 20 most-produced playwrights in the country, and has had over twenty plays produced including, I and You, Émilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Parts They Call Deep, and Background.

She is married to virologist Nathan Wolfe and has 2 sons.

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levi gore
-director

 

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Levi Gore is an Actor and Director and a proud member of the Actors' Equity Association (AEA). He grew up in Amarillo, Texas, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance from West Texas A&M University. Following graduation, Levi honed his skills by working with various theatre companies in Austin, Atlanta, and New Jersey before relocating to Albuquerque in 2020.

 

A founding member of The Stage Austin, he moved to Albuquerque in 2020 with his wife, Kaylee. He made his acting debut in Albuquerque during the New Mexico Shakespeare Festival's 2021 production of Hamlet and subsequently in the Festival's 2022 production of As You Like It. As a director, he directed The Tempest and As You Like It for the City Theatre in Austin, Lovers, and Madmen A Midsummer Night's Carnival for The Stage Austin, and most recently Constellations at The Vortex Theatre in Albuquerque, and is co-directing the anticipated revival of All Is Calm with Mother Road Theatre.

 

With a profound passion for Theatre and extensive knowledge of Shakespeare's works, Levi is eager and excited to collaborate and grow with as many outstanding artists as he can

Aislinn Granzin
- Stage Manager

Aislinn Schroeder is a Senior at Volcano Vista High School. Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she enjoys working as a mentor in JROTC and in her high school's theater program, The Dragons. The AS66 production Copenhagen was her first show outside high school productions. She extremely excited to learn and work in the

New Mexico theater industry, including Actors Studio 66

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cast

andra beatty
- margaret leavitt

Andra (she/her/hers) is a midwest born, Chicago-trained actor, artist, and resource development professional. Andra holds her BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, and is a proud alumni of Interlochen Arts Academy where she studied Theatre Arts, as well as Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre.

In the last decade, Andra has completed two national tours with Hampstead Stage Company, appeared in various commercials, and has been on stage and screen in Chicago and beyond. She was most recently seen as Lady Eugenia in Santa Fe Playhouse's production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. As a resource development professional, Andra is currently the Director of Development & Communications at Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Mexico and also served as Development Director for Blank Theatre Company in Chicago from 2018-2021.

Andra currently lives and works in New Mexico and is represented by Bankston Talent in New Mexico and Texas.

christine grenier
- annie cannon

Christine earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from Boston University, and also attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC for acting. Christine began her NYC acting career in 2003, working regularly with theatre companies including The 52nd Street Project and Falconworks Artists Group. She earned a

Best Actress Award, presented by The Looking Glass Theatre in NYC, for her performance as Linny in Hustlers. Christine travels for work in film, theatre and commercials. She played the role of Deena in Caldwell’s Bomb which ran at

Actors Studio 66 in Fall of 2022.

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jonathan howard
- peter shaw

Jonathan Howard is an English actor known for playing Ian Boothby in Thor: The Dark World, Darcy's intern and love interest, Godzilla King Of The Monsters playing Charles Dance’s son and for leading performances in Skylines currently streaming

on Netflix, Trespassers, The Five Rules of Success and Neil Marshall’s The Lair. 

 

A graduate of the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

(LAMDA), Howard began his career with prominent British TV performances in

Dream Team, Julien Fellows critically acclaimed Downton Abbey and mini series Titanic along with supporting roles in Mr Selfridge and British/American sitcom Episodes with Matt Le Blanc. In the US he has recurred on TNT’s

The Last Ship and Kingdom, as Nic Jonas’ boyfriend. 

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caitlin kelly
- henrietta leavitt

Caitlin is ecstatic to be back at Actors Studio 66. She has previously had the

pleasure of playing roles such as: Ophelia in Hamlet (NMSF 2021), Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (NMSF 2019), Sonia in LIFESUCKS (Actors Studio 66), Emmy in Doll’s House, Part 2 (The Vortex) Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter (Aux Dog), and more!


She is represented by Peter Yanke of Phirgun Mair Worldwide. And would like to thank the creative team of Silent Sky for their tireless efforts in creating a terrific experience on and off the stage.

kim monti
- williamina fleming

Kim S. Monti is excited to join the highly accomplished cast of Silent Sky. She previously had the pleasure of working with Actors Studio 66 as Jane Wilson in the dramatic reading of Free Man of Color. Her stage credits also include Vera Claythorne in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and Narrator in Katrina Muldoon’s NM production of Phantom in the Third Reich. As an actor, voice actor

and Mrs. Claus, she has a wide variety of credits in front of the camera for major and independent films, and commercials. Kim graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University (BA in Chemistry) and had a geek career as a research environmental chemist, then found her technical happy place with unmanned robotics. She is deeply grateful to her husband, Michael Gates for his support and hours of time helping her learn lines. As for acting, she says: I’m delighted to blend my geekiness, a genuine love for life, and storytelling into making a difference as a creative being.” She is most grateful

for all of those who support live theater.

alex armbruster   
- Annie & Williamina (Understudy)
   
               

Alex Gonzales Armbrüster (she/her/they/them) is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with a BA in Performer's Process. She has an eclectic history of performance, loving to be involved in anything from new experimental work to classical pieces. This is their first production with Actor's Studio 66. She was most recently seen in Sopita De Entropia as Estefania and Midsummer Night's Dream as Hippolyta. 

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graydon clarke
 - peter shaw (understudy)

Graydon Clarke graduated from the University of New Mexico with an MBA in International Management. He begun his acting career as Prince Fortinbras in Hamlet in the 2021 NM Shakespeare Festival. Other rolls he has done include Rudi Scherz in A Murder is Announced (Albuquerque Little Theatre), the King of France/ensemble in King Lear (NM Shakespeare Festival), and Angelo in

Comedy of Errors (NM Shakespeare Festival). He’s very excited and honored to be

a part of Silent Night, understudying for his largest roll yet.

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taylor jung
- margaret & henriettA (understudy)

This is Taylor's first production with Actors Studio 66 . It is her first time to be back onstage after 4 years, and she couldn't be more excited! Taylor just moved here

from Minneapolis where she lived for 3 years, She is originally from North Dakota

and attended the University of North Dakota where she got her BFA in musical theatre. Some of her favorite roles include Eurydice in Eurydice, #13 in The Wolves and Prentiss in Peter and the Starcatcher. She wants to thank her family for their support in everything she does! 

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designers & crew

riley lewis
- lighting designer

Riley has designed lights on many shows in ABQ including BrainPeople (The Vortex), N4th New Works Festival (N4th) and Lava (The Vortex), as well as sound for Dracula (The Vortex) and Drinking Habits (Adobe). Riley dedicates all his theatrical

to the loving memory of his late best friend Kelli Ingle."

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rikki lowder
- props designer

Rikki is a full time film student part time waitress. I love to read, watch movies, travel and spend time with my fur baby. 

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mattie roos
- set designer

Mattie Roos is a recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, with a BFA in Scenic Design. She has worked with many community theatres mainly the Vortex for which she is also the paint and props coordinator. Mattie has also worked with West End Productions, Sandia Performing Arts Company, and hopes to continue working with them and more in the future.

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kaylee silcocks
-
costume designer

Kaylee Lynora Silcocks-Gore is a costume designer and makeup artist in Albuquerque. Originally from Austin, she has worked with theatres around Albuquerque and Santa Fe. She currently is the head costumer for Opera Southwest but she loves to costume wherever she can grow her art. Her past credits include: The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It for the NM Shakespeare Festival, Constellations, and Hurricane Diane for The Vortex Turandot, Bluebeards Castle, and Le Come Ory for Opera Southwest, and The Effect for The Santa Fe Playhouse. All the love to her wonderful, supportive husband.

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banx tenorio 
-
sound designer

Banx Tenorio is excited to be a part of the Actor’s Studio 66 team of artists and collaborators. They have been working sound and light design since 2018 and recently gained the title of Technical Director here at AS66. They look forward to bringing more audio and visual fun to the Albuquerque stages and want to thank everyone in the audience for supporting the arts.

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adrian doerfler
-
crew

Before the pandemic, Adrian volunteered at the Aux Dog Theatre in acting, stage hand and technical capacities. He is a videographer and works at Field and Frame. a video rental business in Nob Hill. He is happy to be involved in the theater community once again.

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lola sanchez
-
crew

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At rehearsal

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