‘Silent Sky’ makes its shining debut

Kylie Balk-Yaatenen, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Courtesy of Shelby Edwards
Peter Shaw, played by Jordan Whitrock, and Henrietta Leavitt, played by Ali Basham, share a special moment after Peter finally worked up the courage to talk to her.

The UW Oshkosh theater department will be putting on their first play of the season tonight, titled “Silent Sky”.

The play is based on the real-life story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who worked as a “computer” in the 19th century at Harvard College Observatory. Many women were hired as these “computers” to take care of and analyze the observatory’s photographs, but they were not allowed to look through the telescope.

The play is written by Lauren Gunderson and it follows Henrietta, who is hired by Harvard and who, as a woman in the 1800’s, must try to keep her ideas to herself.
Henrietta quietly pursues her own revolutionary theories as family ties, society and love pull her in different directions.

Jordan Whitrock, who plays Peter Shaw, a male astronomer, said that he really enjoys the play because it is a good mix of drama and comedy.

Whitrock said the show has the ability to touch on many social and economic problems for women in the 19th century.

“There is also a cast of loveable characters as well as funny and romantic relationships that are formed.”

He said that he enjoys the funny, awkward relationship between his character Peter and Henrietta.

“My favorite part of the play is when my character Peter Shaw tries to work up enough courage to just talk to Henrietta Leavitt,” Whitrock said.

Merlaine Angwall, the director, said that she thinks that people should see the play because of how important Henrietta’s story is.

“You will learn something about a woman who lived in Wisconsin and created the foundation for mapping the universe,” Angwall said.

Whitrock said that he believes that this is a show that you won’t want to miss because there is something in it for everybody.

“The show has a loving playful feel and ​keeps flowing​,” he said. “It has the magical ability to allow one to get away from the stressful outside world for just a little bit.”

Tickets for the show are available at the box office or online. They cost $5 for UWO staff and students, $11 for UWO alumni and for senior citizens and $14 for general admission.