The first half of this year’s theater season—For the Beauty of the Earth—is coming to an end. Opening Dec. 9, Performance Hall will travel through the stars with Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky. Senior Brooke Henige directs this historical piece narrating the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a female astronomer in the early 1900s.
Silent Sky is Henige’s directing debut. She joined the BJU theatre program believing her life’s purpose was acting. Even as a junior, the idea of doing anything but acting for her senior capstone seemed impossible. A stage directing class Henige took during the spring of her third year changed everything. She saw a potential in her directing skills and realized how limiting her tunnel vision had become.
Theater faculty member Dr. Erin Naler gave Henige several plays to read and choose for her capstone. Silent Sky caught her eye. “I read it multiple times and fell in love with it,” she said. “That’s the play I was like, ‘yeah, I’ve got to direct this.’ ”
For Henige, directing has been a challenge. As an actor, she was only concerned with her own roles. “But being a director, you have to see all of it,” she now realizes. Cast, crew, staging, lighting and sound are a few of the things Henige—and every other director—must oversee.
Thankfully, her team has offered great support. “It’s wonderful to know that, while this is my senior capstone and I truly have put a ton of effort into it, I have supportive faculty, and I have supportive collaborators and artists that are working with me on this,” said Henige.
Henrietta Leavitt’s passion for her career attracted Henige. Leavitt and her female coworkers pursued astronomy in the early 1900s, a time when women weren’t taken seriously in the sciences. Despite their education, female astronomers were left in hidden corners, working on discoveries that paved the way for men like Edwin Hubble.
Though underestimated, Leavitt notices more than the average person sees. “She is a go-getter,” said Henige. Throughout the play, Leavitt strives to do well at what she’s passionate about despite her doubts and unanswered questions.
“I’m truly touched by the discoveries that these women are making, the circumstances that they have to overcome, and the sense of community and family that was discussed during this play,” said Henige. She hopes the drama inspires the audience to appreciate the things around them which are often taken for granted.
Come watch Henige’s directorial debut and let her interpretation of Silent Sky dare you to reach for the stars. Purchase tickets online or call Programs & Productions at (864) 770-1372.