Acclaimed playwright Lauren Gunderson will speak before live reading of her work via Zoom

From Seminole State College

The Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Seminole State College of Florida will present a live reading of the play “Silent Sky,” in partnership with the College’s Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium, June 4, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

“Silent Sky” tells the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. In a time of immense scientific discoveries, Leavitt and her female peers work at Harvard Observatory, but find their ideas and theories pushed aside or ignored altogether by the men in the department. Trying to balance career and family obligations, Leavitt, undeterred, uses her free time to engage in scientific work that leads to discoveries that have a deep and lasting impact on the field of astronomy.

“We are so excited to partner with the planetarium to give our students the platform to showcase their hard work, talent and dedication to this beautiful story,” said Theatre Professor Niki Salamon, who is directing the play. “As an educator, I always look for the lesson in things. I think the lesson here for our students is to never feel defeated, never give up, and to always push yourself to create positive solutions out of the worst of scenarios.”

The live reading of “Silent Sky” will feature two special guests. Acclaimed playwright Lauren Gunderson will provide a brief introduction to this performance of her work, and local astronomer Barbara Harris will give a presentation about Leavitt’s discoveries and the legacy she left.

As a partner on this event, the planetarium provided educational experiences for the actors to learn more about Leavitt’s work in the field of astronomy and her struggles during the time period in which the play is set. The planetarium also served as the host location for the play and worked on many of the immersive visuals that will be featured.

“Henrietta Leavitt’s influence on astronomy was profound in that her research lead to the understanding of how far objects in the universe truly are,” said Planetarium Director Derek Demeter. “Her work paved the way for astronomers like Edwin Hubble who used her mathematical relationships to deduce that far away objects are in fact part of distant galaxies.”

Originally planned as the finale to Seminole State’s 2019-20 theatre season, which was canceled when the College’s campuses closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, “Silent Sky” will be the second performance in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts’ Zoom play series. In lieu of tickets, viewers can access the link to the “Silent Sky” Reading on Zoom via the Center for Fine and Performing Arts’ Facebook event.

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About the Center for Fine and Performing Arts

Seminole State’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts offers programs in art, music and theater as well as a wide variety of concerts, theatre productions, gallery exhibits and other cultural events. For more information about the Center, including calendars of all upcoming cultural events at Seminole State, visit seminolestate.edu/arts and follow them on Facebook.

About the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium

Located on Seminole State’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium at Seminole State College of Florida offers live, interactive shows and full-dome video presentations. For more information on the Buehler Planetarium and upcoming events, visit the planetarium website, like the planetarium on Facebook and follow it on Twitter and Instagram: @seminoleplanet.

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