Festival Theatre to present Staged Readings of “Silent Sky”

Performances will take place at three outdoor venues as part of rescheduled NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley programming

St. Croix Festival Theatre and ArtReach St. Croix will host three staged readings of “Silent Sky,” the true story of a 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt by award-winning playwrite Lauren Gunderson. Originally scheduled as a full theatrical production as part of the NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley programming this past spring, the staged readings will offer audiences a chance to experience the play under the sky at three outdoor venues –the St. Croix ArtBarn in Osceola, the Zephyr Theatre in Stillwater and Belwin Conservancy in Afton. The dates are Aug. 28-30. 

“Silent Sky” 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. The story begins in the early 1900s when Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory where she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea as she charts stars for a renowned astronomer. The story follows Leavitt’s attempts to measure the light and distance of the stars and to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and expectations.

“I am excited that we are able to include St. Croix Festival Theatre’s staged readings of ‘Silent Sky’ in our rescheduled NEA Big Read programming,” says Heather Rutledge, executive director of ArtReach St. Croix. “The role women play in science, both in the 1900s and today, is a key message in this year’s book selection, ‘Lab Girl’ by Hope Jahren.”

Award-winning Playwright Lauren Gunderson has been the most produced living playwright for several years, for the 2018-19 season she was number two. Her work has received national praise and awards including being a Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award finalist, a Susan Smith Blackburn finalist, a Jane Chambers Award finalist, and winner of the Berrilla Kerr Award for American Theatre, Global Age Project, Young Playwright’s Award, Eric Bentley New Play Award and Essential Theatre Prize.

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