The UND Theatre Arts Department is opening its season with a modern drama, “Silent Sky,” a true story of an early 1900s astronomer who was ahead of her time.

The show runs Tuesday-Saturday, Sept. 28-Oct. 2, in the Burtness Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m.

Brad Reissig, associate chairman of the department, describes the play as “a heartfelt, historical story of a woman who shot for the stars.”

In the leading role, Erin Chaves, a senior majoring in musical theatre, plays Henrietta Leavitt. The production is directed by Emily Cherry Oliver, with additional direction by Emily Wirkus. Other cast members are Stevee Wittlieb, Kyle Mason, Piper Sommer and Anissa Oveson.

Tickets, $20 for adults and $10 for students, are available online at or by calling (701) 777-2587.

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In the Burtness Theatre, audience members are required to wear masks, due to UND's policy relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Silent Sky,” written by Lauren Gunderson, explores universal themes of romance, history, feminism and bigotry.

When Henrietta begins working at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she is not allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea, Reissig said. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women’s probing theories.

As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love, he said.

The true story of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt “explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them,” Reissig said.

In partnership with the Northern Sky Astronomical Society and the International Dark Sky Association, UND Theatre Arts Department invites audience members to join the cast and crew of “Silent Sky” to go outside the Burtness Theatre after the performance. The NSAS members will have telescopes set up to allow viewing of the night sky and the universe through Henrietta’s eyes, Reissig said.

A lights-out campaign across that part of the UND campus after the show will also be held to help reduce light pollution and assist with further immersion, he said. “It is an experience not to be missed.”

The production team members are: Camilla Morrison, costume, hair and makeup design; Brad Reissig, scenic and lighting design; and Patrick Reading, technical direction and sound design.

Other production staff members are: Dylan Merritt, Otto Lieder, Alex Rice, Tacy Crawford, Tyler Hebert, Skyler Mack, Alex Rice, Ariel Long, Kyle Mason, Amy Hahn, Jessie Grabouski, Daniel Jung, Anne Mitchell, Anissa Oveson, Camilla Morrison, Morgan Shambaugh, Olivia Stewart, Zachary Murphy, Brigitte Froslee, Grace Henneman, Gyu Ri Kim, Robert Cooper, Michael Toenies, Gretchen Osweiler, Teagan Leusink and Marilyn Gregoire.