Lauren Gunderson's "Silent Sky," much like the movie "Hidden Figures," focuses on women who made critical, groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of space. It’s a touching tale of a woman’s dedication which makes life under the vast sky beautiful and timeless.
We recently spoke with Cornerstone Alumni, Kara Start (‘19), about her starring role in Silent Sky and how Cornerstone paved the way for this wonderful opportunity.
When did your interest in theater begin?
I have been involved in theater since my freshman year at Cornerstone, and I knew that I wanted to continue with theater in college at Covenant even though I'm not planning on getting a degree in theater.
When the audition announcement for Silent Sky went up, I figured that I might as well try auditioning - if nothing else, it would give me more audition experience. I went in for the initial call, read for several of the characters, and ended up getting a callback. That evening, the director sent out the cast list, and much to my surprise and excitement, I was cast as the lead, Henrietta Leavitt.
How did your time at Cornerstone help to prepare you for your role?
My time doing theater at Cornerstone gave me jump start into the theater world - I did my first true musical at Cornerstone in my freshman year, and I really appreciate all of the shows that I got to be a part of in subsequent years. Having that background experience truly helped me enter the world of college theater with confidence.
Even more than that, however, I believe that Cornerstone gave me time management - a skill that I definitely needed during intense weeks of rehearsal.
Taking classes, working on campus, doing homework, plus rehearsing for several hours every night kept me plenty busy. I am very thankful for the ways that the Cornerstone schedule taught me how to keep up with my classes.
Can you give us a brief description of Silent Sky?
At the beginning of the play, set in the early 1900s, Henri (Henrietta Leavitt) gets a job as a "human computer" doing the mathematical grunt work of astronomers at Harvard. However, as she begins to make her own discoveries, she must fight to be recognized for the work that she did. Today, we recognize her monumental discovery in modern astronomy, the "period–luminosity relationship for Cepheid stars" as Leavitt's Law.
What did you find to be the most difficult part of your performance?
The hardest part of being in this show was to become Henri without making the same mistakes as Henri - to always work hard, but take time for rest as well.
I definitely had to remind myself of that during the final week of performances because I got sick during that week and had to make sure that I rested so that I could recover. Performing those last three shows was a challenge, but thankfully my voice didn't give out completely.
Playing Henri was a great learning experience also. In the play, she's an incredibly hard worker - often to the point of neglecting herself and those that she loves. That is definitely something I need to be reminded of, especially when I feel overwhelmed.
What part of your experience are you most grateful for?
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to play Henri and I loved being able to learn about and from her. I've never played a real person from history, so I enjoyed getting to research Henri and the world that she lived in.