‘Silent Sky’ Opening Night Shines Bright


Photo by: Jimmy Heng

From left, Quincy Maxwell embraces Jessica Knotts during an emotional scene at rehearsals for Silent Sky in the Studio 105 Theatre on Nov. 8.

Story By: Jimmy Heng, Reporter

The audience filled every seat in the Studio 105 Theatre on the opening night of “Silent Sky,” Nov. 10. Piano music filled the room while they eagerly waited for a play that would make them laugh, cry, and smile. The room dimmed, a light shined on center stage, and “Silent Sky” began.

“Silent Sky” is a beautiful story about women who made large contributions to astronomy. Inspired by real people in the early 1900s, it is written by playwright Lauren Gunderson and directed by Fresno City College instructor Janine Christl.

The story is focused on Henrietta Swan Leavitt, a woman from Wisconsin who wished to study the stars. She pursues her dream to find her place in the universe and she meets many colorful people. The play is filled with complex ideas about responsibilities, love, and dreams.

Jessica Knots plays the lead of Henrietta. The supporting cast is: Marikah Christine Leal, who plays Margaret; Quincy Maxwell who plays Peter; Megan DeWitt who plays Annie; and Aleah Muniz, who plays Williamina. The ensemble cast consists of: Savannah Nelson, Sami Valles, and James Anderson.

From left, Aleah Muniz, Megan DeWitt, and Jessica Knotts portray astronomy’s American hidden figures at rehearsals for Silent Sky in Studio 105 Theatre on Nov. 8. Photo/Jimmy Heng

The actors use most of the floor as well as the stage. In some scenes, they are a mere three feet away from the front row audience. The closeness to the actors, along with strong acting, makes the performance feel intimate. The characters and their emotions feel real.

At every moment, the actors have the audience emotionally invested. There is interest, followed by comedy, compassion, and then shock. Even in transition, the dark room and piano music in the background prepares the audience’s emotions for the next scene or keeps them thinking about what happened.

The play is sweet and inspiring and audience members will find several themes to identify with. It drives the theme that one must never give up on their dreams no matter the hardships faced.

The FCC Theatre department makes great use of the set for “Silent Sky.” Much like the story, the set has a few surprises waiting for new viewers. The end of the play feels magical and out of this world.

Christl said opening night, “was just a beautiful opening and I’m glad to see that we get to soar now.” They started preparing for this play last March, researching, casting, and getting into the design elements.

She said “Silent Sky” is a smart play and audience members can expect a lot of emotions.  She hopes that people leave and are interested in America’s hidden figures, such as Henrietta Leavitt. “There’s a beautiful love story,” she said. “and the complications of life and loss and how we define ourselves. I think everyone can relate to that.”
“Silent Sky” will be show on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 at 7:30 p.m and Nov. 17 and 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the ticket booth near the FCC Theatre entrance and online.