Unsung Stars

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Creating Unsung Stars

 

Our original show, Unsung Stars, was performed at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium March 2010. Unsung Stars tells the true story of the women who reached for the stars. Unsung Stars merges art and science as it spotlights Henrietta Leavitt and her break-through discovery that has been called one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the twentieth century.

Unsung Stars brings to light a fascinating moment in history as women took their place in astronomy. Step back in time with us to the early part of the 20th century when, for the first time in history, a photograph could be made of what was viewed through a telescope. With this new technology, mankind – and womankind – could study more of what was possible to see in the sky. This produced an enormous amount of astronomical data. Stars could be identified – even discovered – and their brightness measured. Dr. Edward Pickering, Director of the Harvard College Observatory, hired women to do this work. They were called computers.

Rehearsing Unsung Stars

 

During her work at the Observatory Henrietta Leavitt discovered the Period-Luminosity Relationship – the important  discovery that enabled astronomers to measure distance in space. Though she left so slight a human trail, her discovery caused a significant shift in our perception of our universe. In Unsung Stars we set out to explore Henrietta Leavitt’s story and the stories of the women who worked with her at the Harvard Observatory.

 

The Unsung Stars Project began the summer of 2007 in the Studio of The Moving Dock Theatre Company in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building. In three different workshops, 28 women artists and several researchers – including Science Consultant Alan Lightman – contributed to the development and writing of this new play. Director Dawn Arnold, guided the actresses as they researched the biographical material available about the Harvard Computers and then explored the world, the aspirations, and the lives of these women through the empathetic art of the actor.

Harvard College Observatory Computers

 

The Moving Dock Theatre Company received a prestigious grant for this theatre project by The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project. The EST/Sloan Project supports new plays dealing with science. With the encouragement of the EST/Sloan grant, Moving Dock headed into the second developmental workshop of Unsung Stars which culminated in a Studio event called, Tea with the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory in May 2009 and then a studio performance of Unsung Stars in June 2009. Chicago’s Adler Planetarium then agreed to make their Universe Theatre the site of the unveiling of this theatrical docudrama, a perfect setting to share this story.

 

 

 

Unsung Stars celebrates the role of women in astronomy and expresses the intersection of science and theater.

Women astronomers at Harvard College Observatory

Women astronomers at Harvard College Observatory

We were thrilled to debut Unsung Stars at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium – a milestone for Moving Dock Theatre Company - during the 30th anniversary celebration of National Women’s History Month, whose 2010 theme was “Writing Women Back into History.

The Moving Dock Theatre Company gratefully acknowledges the Adler Planetarium in hosting this production.

Unsung Stars performs at Adler Planetarium

Unsung Stars performs at Adler Planetarium

Unsung Stars at Harvard Observatory

Unsung Stars at Harvard Observatory

Unsung Stars performance at Adler Planetarium

Unsung Stars performance at Adler Planetarium

 

Alan Lightman, Dawn Arnold, Michael Smutko

Alan Lightman, Dawn Arnold, Michael Smutko

 

 

 

Alan Lightman (author of Einstein’s Dreams) began the evening setting the stage with remarks about the state of astronomy when Henrietta Leavitt began her work. Panel discussion followed the performance with Alan Lightman, Moving Dock’s Dawn Arnold, and Adler Astronomer, Michael Smutko. (Photos By Cat Conrad) 
Guest Speaker Alan Lightman

Guest Speaker Alan Lightman

 

Unsung Stars Bows

Unsung Stars Bows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to watch a slide show of the performance.

 

The women of The Moving Dock Theatre Company created Unsung Stars in honor of the dedicated lives, the unsung stars, of the Harvard Observatory – and all people who, like them, have namelessly changed our world.