Actor spotlight: Hope Mager discovering Henrietta Leavitt

Sevyn Bahntu, Staff Writer

Theater junior Hope Mager will star as Henrietta Leavitt this month in the ORU production of “Silent Sky,” a play about an astronomer who faces belittlement as a female scientist and struggles with the obligations of family.

The part differs from her previous acting roles and was a learning process that continued day by day, Mager said. A lot of preparation was necessary because Henrietta is such a complex character.

“She is unconventional, passionate, fiery, curious,” the actress said.

“Silent Sky,” written by Lauren Gunderson, is set during the early 1900s.

The time period became a major part of the research she did to play the role, Mager said.

“I also did a lot of research about astronomy due to her verbiage in scientific language,” she said. “When I understood what she meant, I became very excited.”

Mager’s theater classes, along with director Norah Swiney, helped her see the intellectual purpose of the play. Mager described Swiney as “brilliant.”

“Her teachings help me discover who I am. She asks you questions and then you make the discovery,” Mager said. “She tells us, ‘it is not her own idea of what she wants the show to look like but we’re kind of discovering the show as we go.’”

Swiney’s directing method reflects the class environment at ORU, a student said.

“People will provide you with a variety (of perspectives) because maybe they provided a perspective that was like, ‘oh wow, I didn’t think of them that way. That’s really cool, let’s try to go in this direction,’” said Faith Martinez, a theater junior.

Martinez described Mager, her classmate, as “a greater-meaning, free-spirited, focused-on-the-details kind of actor.”

Mager’s previous roles include Louisa in “Sound of Music,” Jacques in “As You Like It” and Sally in “Talley Folley.”

This new role, however, proved to be both “natural and challenging at the same time,” Mager said.

“It’s challenging for sure because she goes through so many emotions,” she said. “It’s hard because it’s the constant energy.”

Henrietta’s passion makes the role natural to play because “the way she talks about the stars is the way I feel about art or the way I feel about the Lord,” Mager said. “So playing her is connecting with a sense of almost child-like wonder.”

To watch Mager as Henrietta Leavitt go see “Silent Sky” from Sept. 22-25 at ORU Howard Auditorium.