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UND Theatre’s ‘Silent Sky’ plays Sept. 28-Oct. 2

True story of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt will be followed by telescope viewing of night sky

In ‘Silent Sky,’ Erin Chaves (shown here) plays Henrietta Leavitt, an American astronomer who worked at the Harvard College Observatory in the early 1900s. Leavitt’s research at the Observatory helped provide keys to the size and scale of the universe. Photo courtesy of UND Theater Arts.

UND Theatre returns to live productions with Silent Sky, which plays at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 at Burtness Theatre.

The true story of 19th century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, who worked at the Harvard Observatory, the play will be followed by a telescope viewing outside the Theatre.

Each show begins at 7:30 p.m., and masks are required while viewing the production. Tickets, $20 for adults and $10 for students, can be purchased at UND Theatre Arts or at 701-777-2587.

In partnership with the Northern Sky Astronomical Society and the International Dark Sky Association, UND Theatre invites audience members to join the cast and crew of Silent Sky outside the Burtness Theatre following the performance. The Astronomical Society will have telescopes set up so audience members can view the night sky and see the universe through Henrietta’s eyes. A lights-out campaign across that corner of campus after the show will help reduce light pollution and assist with further immersion.

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 play explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discovery, 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.

Image courtesy of UND Theatre Arts.


Production Team

  • Directed by Emily Cherry Oliver
  • Additional Direction by Emily Wirkus
  • Costume, Hair, & Makeup Design by Camilla Morrison
  • Scenic & Lighting Design by Brad Reissig
  • Technical Direction and Sound Design by Patrick Reading


  • Henrietta: Erin Chaves
  • Margaret: Stevee Wittlieb
  • Peter: Kyle Mason
  • Annie: Piper Sommer
  • Williamina: Anissa Oveson

Production Staff

  • Assistant Director: Dylan Merritt
  • Dramaturge: Otto Lieder
  • Production Stage Manager: Alex Rice
  • Assistant Stage Managers: Tacy Crawford, Tyler Hebert
  • Properties: Skyler Mack, Alex Rice
  • Scene Shop Assistants:   Ariel Long, Kyle Mason
  • Costume Shop Manager: Amy Hahn
  • Costume Shop Assistants: Tacy Crawford, Jessie Grabouski, Daniel Jung, Anne Mitchell, Anissa Oveson
  • Wardrobe Head: Daniel Jung
  • Drapers: Daniel Jung, Camilla Morrison
  • Dressers: Morgan Shambaugh, Olivia Stewart
  • Light Board Operator: Zachary Murphy
  • Sound Board Operator: Brigitte Froslee
  • Stage Hands: Grace Henneman, Gyu Ri Kim
  • House Manager: Robert Cooper
  • Box Office Manager: Michael Toenies, Gretchen Osweiler
  • Box Office Assistants: Teagan Leusink, Marilyn Gregoire