Saturday, April 9, 2011

Silent Sky

Today I went to South Coast Rep theater and saw a new play. I think it was a world premiere. It's called Silent Sky, and I am so glad I went to see it today, despite not being able to find my ticket. I have an educator's subscription, so I called up and asked if I could get a replacement ticket for free, and I did!
The play was a period piece about an astronomer named Henrietta Leavitt who lived early in the 20th century, about when Einstein was making his first arguments about relativity.
She was educated at Radcliffe, but couldn't get to use the telescope at Harvard or receive a faculty position anywhere because of her gender. But she was brilliant and determined, and too young to give up, so she managed to discover a method of locating stars in space by the frequency of their light, and it was through her discovery that astronomers learned there were other galaxies beyond our own.
She got very ill, and I think probably died early, but at the last, she got some recognition for her work, according to the play anyhow. I want to learn more about her because the play is about anyone who aspires to do something beyond the everyday, and how "real life" and this work often seem impossible to fit together, particularly for women.

7 comments:

marly youmans said...

Here in the states we are pretty lucky to not be thwarted in that sort of obvious manner these days. Of course, lots of more subtle thwartings occur.

And the truth of the matter is that one must have a reservoir of strength because nobody else can care about dreams in the same way as the person who dreams them. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and there are sympathetic people out there, but we are responsible for the care and feeding of our own dreams--and for adjusting to whatever comes along the way.

Sounds like an inspiring story. You ought to do a post about what you find!

Robbi said...

It's true Marly that women have much more leeway here than elsewhere and much more now than ever before, but no one would expect a young man to take care of ill relatives or believe that because he has a family he should not aspire to do anything else. The gender gap is not entirely dead, and biology has much to do with it.

marly youmans said...

Well, yah, but I for one am not going to get in a twit about it because I'm too dang busy.

Besides, there are young men who have dropped out of college and so forth to take care of a mother with cancer, etc. These things aren't global statements anymore.

I compare myself with women elsewhere on the planet and am grateful, anyway. For that matter, I can compare myself to many of the men on the planet and feel the same. I mean, be of good cheer, people! Things aren't that bad. Your ancestors were serfs or peasants or worse, most of you! Let's show some downright vim and gratefulness, shall we?

Tend to doubt that a determined woman with a family in this country has to fail. My family with three children and no living siblings of my own is a ton of work but inspiring to my vocation all the same.

Feel free to ignore the above cheerful rant, of course!

marly youmans said...

Did I get a little carried away? Hmm, probably. Siphoned the excess of energy into a poem before it drained away, though, so just as well.

Michele said...

I saw Silent Sky tonight and I loved it!

Robbi said...

I looked for you on Saturday; guess you saw it Sunday!

Robbi said...

Of course I thought of you, Marly, and how you never allowed having three children, one with disabilities, slow you down, but most people don't have your energy or strength.
And yes, sometimes, once in a while, someone does expect a young man to care for an aging relative, but it is much much rarer than the expectation that a young (or not so young) woman will drop everything to do so.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not really complaining, just observing.