'BURSTING WITH IMAGINATION! BEAUTIFULLY THEATRICAL'
A National Stage Company of Canada Premiere Presentation
Directed & Produced By: Tony James
Canadian Stage Actors, MARIAH MADILL as Henrietta Leavitt
and ANGEL DURAN-HEON as Peter Shaw
MAKAYLA MADILL as Margaret Leavitt, SAMANTHA FREW as Annie Cannon
and AUGUST ELZINGA as Williamina Fleming
Silent Sky tells the true story of Henrietta Leavitt, the astronomer ahead of her time. It is 1900, and Henrietta has the opportunity to work at Harvard University as a human computer, one of Dr. Edward Pickering’s “harem,” mapping the stars but receiving no scientific credit. When Henrietta arrives, she is eager to use Harvard’s telescope - the Great Refractor - but is told that she will not be able to do any sort of astronomical discovery as she will only log the stars photographed by the men of the department. However, Henrietta will not be dissuaded, and begins the process of recording the changes in Cepheid stars - a scientific discovery that has profound and lasting impact on the field of astronomy.
During her inquiry, Henrietta’s relationships strain under her obsessive work ethic; her sister Margaret, her love interest Peter Shaw, and her colleagues Annie Cannon and Williamina Fleming all find themselves pushed aside in favor of a great cosmic mystery. Silent Sky is the poignant tale of a woman’s dedication to the stars, and the human touch that makes life under the vast sky beautiful and timeless.
We welcome you to join us for the premiere of this visually stunning award-winning play.
Executive Producer | Stage Director: Tony James
PREMIERING DECEMBER 2022
THE ARTISTS - THE BIOS
Mariah has an enthusiasm for dancing, singing, costumes and entertaining people that is evident in her performances. She has been dancing since she was 3, played piano for 8 years, and has been thriving in her singing lessons over the last 3 years. She especially loves singing harmonies with her sisters and enjoyed performing at the Sooke Fine Arts Show when she was younger.
Mariah always loves the connections with the cast and crew and really enjoyed being part of Nutcracker in a Nutshell with Sooke Dance Studio, Mamma Mia! with Peninsula Players, and Annie with Sooke Harbour Players. Mariah’s 9 years of Ballet show in her grace and strength in her dancing, and she has also loved Contemporary, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap and Hip Hop. Her choreography has been recognized and won awards in dance festivals and competitions, and recently she choreographed and danced in a music video.
Mariah is proud to be a part of The National Stage Company of Canada and will be pursuing a Fine Arts degree at UVIC.
Angel is a passionate artist who first delved into the community theatre scene in the summer of 2018. Since then he has had great fulfillment playing a variety of roles from: a martial arts oriented Benvolio in a variation of Romeo & Juliet, Asher & the Butler from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and even a dame in Cinderella The Pantomime. Angel is thankful for these roles as well as all the others unlisted which he’s had the pleasure of receiving.
Aside from this, Angel’s passion began as a child playing “pretend” with his friends, and eventually after high school pursued theatre and sparked his love for theatre.
Angel enjoys both physical and mental challenges on and off the stage. His physical interests include martial arts, rock climbing, and acrobatics. Mentally he enjoys running games of Dungeons and Dragons, hoping to adapt the material one day for book releases.
Makayla lives for theatre. As a child she could be found singing, dancing, making art, and putting on shows for her family. Her passion and dedication are apparent when she is performing on stage. Her journey started with dance at a young age and she has thrived in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Tap and Hip Hop. She has been performing in dance festivals and competitions since she was 9 years old and her proudest moments were winning multiple awards for her choreography.
She continues to play piano and thoroughly enjoys her singing lessons. Makayla loves composing songs and is often found at the piano writing and singing. Makayla is currently studying for a Fine Arts Degree at UVic.
Makayla’s favorite theatre roles have been Morticia in Addams Family with Kaleidoscope, the Narrator in Into the Woods with Four Seasons Musical Theatre and Ensemble in Mamma Mia! with Peninsula Players and she is so grateful to continue her journey with The National Stage Company of Canada.
Samantha Frew is an actress and aspiring writer/director from Mount Pearl, NL. She's enrolled at the University of Victoria as a Theatre major with a focus in Performance, and she intends to pursue a Masters degree.
Samantha performed in UVic's latest main stage show, "Shakespeare's Women'' as Katherine. Prior to enrolling at UVic, she starred in many roles ranging from dramatic to comedic, and competed anually in the Kiwanis Music Festival.
Samantha’s love of performing began at a young age when she attended a local summer camp. This love continued into high school, with Samantha becoming a proud member of the school's performing arts leadership team, and graduating with the Rising Star award. She is thrilled to continue pursuing her passion at UVic.
Samantha gives thanks to the cast, crew, and to you, the audience, for making this beautiful show possible.
August Elzinga (they/them) is very excited to join the National Stage Company Of Canada for the first time! August is a local queer and trans non-binary actor, playwright, and poet. They are a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts’ ‘Company C’ program and received their Bachelor of Performing Arts from Capilano University. Some of their most recent and upcoming roes include Pia in Crime on Goat Island (Untitled Theatrics) and Ridley in the new musical Through My Lens. When not in the theatre you can find August performing around town as local drag thing, Bromley B.
Lauren has been one of the most produced playwrights in America since 2015 topping the list twice including 2019/20. She is a two-time winner of the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for I and You and The Book of Will, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s Residency with Marin Theatre Company.
She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. She co-authored the Miss Bennet plays with Margot Melcon, and her play The Half-Life of Marie Curie is available on Audible.com. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You; Exit Pursued By A Bear; The Taming and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists Play Service (The Revolutionists; The Book of Will; Silent Sky; Bauer, Natural Shocks, The Wickhams and Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon is available from Two Lions/Amazon. She is currently developing musicals with Ari Afsar, Dave Stewart and Joss Stone. LaurenGunderson.com
HENRIETTA SWAN LEAVITT
Henrietta Swan Leavitt, (born July 4, 1868, Lancaster, Massachusetts, U.S.—died December 12, 1921, Cambridge, Massachusetts), American astronomer known for her discovery of the relationship between period and luminosity in Cepheid variables, pulsating stars that vary regularly in brightness in periods ranging from a few days to several months.
Leavitt attended Oberlin College for two years (1886–88) and then transferred to the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women (later Radcliffe College), from which she graduated in 1892. Following an interest aroused in her senior year, she became a volunteer assistant in the Harvard Observatory in 1895. In 1902 she received a permanent staff appointment. From the outset she was employed in the observatory’s great project, begun by Edward C. Pickering, of determining the brightnesses of all measurable stars. In this work she was associated with the older Williamina Fleming and the more nearly contemporary Annie Jump Cannon.
Leavitt soon advanced from routine work to a position as head of the photographic stellar photometry department. A new phase of the work began in 1907 with Pickering’s ambitious plan to ascertain photographically standardized values for stellar magnitudes. The vastly increased accuracy permitted by photographic techniques, which unlike the subjective eye were not misled by the different colours of the stars, depended upon the establishment of a basic sequence of standard magnitudes for comparison. The problem was given to Leavitt, who began with a sequence of 46 stars in the vicinity of the north celestial pole. Devising new methods of analysis, she determined their magnitudes and then those of a much larger sample in the same region, extending the scale of standard brightnesses down to the 21st magnitude.
She then established secondary standard sequences of from 15 to 22 reference stars in each of 48 selected “Harvard Standard Regions” of the sky, using photographs supplied by observatories around the world. Her North Polar Sequence was adopted for the Astrographic Map of the Sky, an international project undertaken in 1913, and by the time of her death she had completely determined magnitudes for stars in 108 areas of the sky. Her system remained in general use until improved technology made possible photoelectrical measurements of far greater accuracy. One result of her work on stellar magnitudes was her discovery of 4 novas and some 2,400 variable stars, the latter figure comprising more than half of all those known even by 1930. Leavitt continued her work at the Harvard Observatory until her death.