WMU Audiology Department Field Trip

Group Photo at the Department of Audiology at Western Michigan University. The group is posing around a case of ear trumpets.
Pictured from Left to Right: Laura Livingstone-McNelis ’89 (Company Manager), Lori Sands (Costume Designer), Hal Bate, Aly Homminga ’20 (Dramaturg/ Henrietta Leavitt), Lanny Potts (Lighting/Scenic Design and Director of Theatre, Abby Barnum ’23, and Angela Mammel ’22

On January 30, 2020 some of the production staff of Silent Sky visited the Audiology Department of Western Michigan University to learn about antique hearing aids. The tour was lead by Laura De Thorne, Chair and Professor of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at WMU, and audiology expert and WMU professor emeritus, Hal Bate.

The main character of Silent Sky, famous astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, was hard of hearing in real life. The actress playing Henrietta (Aly Homminga ’20) will be wearing a period accurate hearing aid in the show.

Hearing aid and audiology expert, Hal Bate, showed the team turn of the century hearing devices, ranging from ear trumpets to a hearing aid concealed in a string of pearls. The team did a lot of reflecting on the stigmas around hearing impaired individuals and whether or not the thoughts surrounding hearing impairments have changed.

The hearing aid Henrietta will be wearing on stage will consist of a receiver on her chest what would receive and magnify the sound to an ear piece in her right ear. During the course of her life, the real Henrietta Leavitt experienced many health issues, including gradual hearing loss throughout her life. Thankfully, her hearing loss did not hinder the important discoveries and accomplishments she made throughout her life.

Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson is running

February 27-Mar 1 in The Playhouse.

Thurs-Sat @ 7:30PM and Sun @ 2:00PM

Directed by Ren Berthel. Silent Sky tells the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a gifted astronomer, is relegated to the role of “computer” at the Harvard Observatory while her male colleagues take credit for her celestial discoveries. Silent Sky pays homage to Henrietta Leavitt’s mind, discoveries, and struggle to be recognized.

The Silent Sky play poster of a dark profile of a woman in the sky. The play is by Lauren Gunderson.

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