Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 9 WI’20

Well, it’s Week Nine, and it’s time for your Festival News broadcast!  Be sure to read to the end!

  • First things first… A special thank you to our Silent Sky company and ALL members of Festival Playhouse who supported the production.  We are better together and it takes our entire team to help make our production work a success.  Thank you for yours.  A shout out to Milan Levy and Aly Homminga (our Irene Ryan nominees) and Ethan Tuck (Certificate of Merit in Stage Management) for their work, and to the entire company… kudos!
  • Next things next… Auditions for Water by the Spoonful directed by Bianca Washington are Week 1, Tuesday and Wednesday, and callbacks Thursday at 7:00pm in the Nelda K Balch Playhouse.  Spread the word and we hope to see you there!
  • Production Applications for Water by the Spoonful are needed NOW!  Our first production meeting is this upcoming Thursday (10th week).  If you have ANY interest in working on this production, please turn in a production application immediately!  Please and thank you…. 
  • Devised Theatre Project… it’s been a delight to have Jens Rasmussen with us this week to explore themes, stories, and ideas for our Devised Theatre Project.  A reminder that Emilio Rodriguez will be with us in spring to develop the play (along with dramaturg “C” Heaps), and then return in fall to direct the play as a fully produced piece.
  • Juniors… thinking about a SIP?  We’ve heard from most of you, and, don’t forget to solidify your SIP plans sooner rather than later.
  • Help is needed… to staff tables for our Theatre Kalamazoo network, Saturday June 6th (Week 10, Saturday) for our ArtFair and Pride Festivals.  Please contact Laura with availability.
  • Pádraig Ó Tuama… Sun., April 26: Irish poet and theologian will speak on themes of language, power, conflict, and religion. More details to come.
  • Emeritus theatre professor Ed Menta is putting on a concert… Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College and the Office of Student Involvement present a free concert of the Kalamazoo blues band, BlueBack (featuring Emeritus Professor of Theatre Arts Ed Menta on guitar) on Week One Monday March 30 at 7:30pm in the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse. Doors open at 7:10pm. Lighting and Sound by Jon Reeves.​ Special musical guests include K College students, alums, and faculty/staff. 

And I saved the best for last….  It is the FIRST FRIDAY OF THE MONTH!!  Do you know where your Technical Director is? 

Did you know that Kalamazoo celebrates the first Friday of each month with Art Hop??  GET OUT.  GET AWAY.  GO AWAY.  GO SEE. And, go experience some art.  See Jon Reeves in his studio at Park Trades (studio 123), and up to 30+ other local artists in venues all over the downtown area.  But if you aren’t sure, just head down to the Park Trades building and wander around

Stay healthy!

And, thank  you for being and important part of our work….



Festival Playhouse presents: Silent Sky

by Lauren Gunderson

Directed by Ren Berthel

February 27- March 1, 2020

Stage Floor Design by Raven Wynd

Lighting/Set Design by Lanny Potts

Costumes by Lori Sands

Assistant Scenic Design- Angela Mammel

Audience Reviews of Silent Sky:

“One of the most beautiful shows I have seen in years.”

ACTF Respondent, Mark Hoffland of Albion College

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.