In the realm of theatre, every show has the potential to profoundly affect both actors and audiences. Molly McAlister’s journey with GREAT, first with “The Laramie Project” in 2020 and now with “Silent Sky” actualizes this potential. As Molly puts it, the connection between theatre, human resilience, and storytelling becomes clear.

For both productions, audiences were moved to tears and encouraged to reflect and ask hard questions. That’s the magic of theatre!”

Molly decided to audition for “Silent Sky” after she was in “Laramie Project” and found the play to be rewarding, if difficult, work. While the two plays are different in many ways, they both deal with real events and real people. Both plays also give voices to marginalized groups, asking audiences and actors to look within themselves. 

The plays are emotionally heavy, but I am grateful to have taken on these characters. It’s good to share their stories with an audience who may or may not have known much about them before the show.”

Portraying real people on stage presents a unique set of challenges, requiring a balance of creative interpretation and historical accuracy.

I feel that in shows with fictional characters, it is easier to have more creative freedom and flexibility. When portraying a real person, I want to give them the respect they deserve, and that sometimes means putting in the time to research to accurately represent the individual I am portraying.”

Molly’s character in “Silent Sky” is one of the two fictional characters in the play, but the character represents a larger truth about the lives of very real astronomers who the cast aims to honor.

My character, Margaret, represents what we know of Henrietta’s family. I feel a strong connection to her, and to the other women in the play who were all real astronomers.”

Creating a sense of authenticity when playing a real person is key to creating an immersive experience. It helps, says Molly, that “Silent Sky” is theatre in the round, where the audience sits on all four sides of the stage. For this production, the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre has been transformed into the Harvard Observatory.

At first, I struggled with the blocking. I wanted to face one side and forgot that I needed to “give some love” to all four sides of the audience. Performing in the round is a unique and intimate experience for audience members, and they become fully immersed in the show.”

Join us for “Silent Sky” this weekend at the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre for one more weekend of performances. Experience theatre in the round, as well as the casts’ hard work, and see what Molly is talking about!