by Clare Arena Haden
When asked to write a short blog post for Forward Theater about my experience working on Silent Sky, I didn’t quite know where to begin. Not because I didn’t have plenty to discuss, but because I wasn’t sure how to succinctly sum up possibly one of the most positive experiences of my professional career.
It started with Lauren Gunderson’s play. The first time I read it, I laughed, I cried, and I immediately read it again. Then I decided that even if it meant replacing light bulbs on the set, I had to be involved somehow on this project. Thankfully, Jen Gray allowed me the humbling, awesome opportunity to walk for a while in Henrietta’s footsteps. How could so little be known about this incredible mind and spirit? While I knew I couldn’t come close to matching her mathematical intelligence (I got my BFA in Musical Theatre, so while I can’t solve math problems, I do know how to solve a problem like Maria), I did my best to illuminate the passion and enthusiasm Lauren gifted her in the play. From the first read-through to opening night, I have been genuinely grateful for every moment of this production. The cast are some of the most talented and generous actors with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing the stage, the designers created a stunning environment in which to play, the stage managers and backstage presence are unmatched, and the director thoughtfully and sophisticatedly led the whole team to bring this gem-of-a-story to you, the audience.
The audience. The most important piece of any theater puzzle. For me, as a storyteller, there is nothing better than the give-and-take visceral response of sharing a great story with a smart, engaged audience. Madison audiences provide the very best around. Thank you for being an integral part of this one. I am forever grateful.
To quote Ms. Leavitt, “…the real point is seeing something bigger, and knowing we’re a small part of it, if we’re lucky. In the end that is a life well lived.” I feel like the luckiest lady around being a tiny pinch of this truly cosmic experience. Hearts and stars, ☺