Stellar performances mark new play, Birth of Stars

Birth of Stars poster

Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending the world premier of Birth of Stars in our Experimental Theatre. What a show! I say, get your tickets while you can!

This play was written by Michael Chemers, associate professor of dramatic literature and chair of Digital Arts and New Media, along with James Bierman of Theater Arts and Mark Krumholz of the Astronomy Department, who also served as the scientific advisor for the play.

The play is about a 14-year-old-girl, a scientific prodigy bullied by her classmates but befriended by an aging professor who appreciates her brilliant mind even as his own scientific productivity is in decline. The acting in both of these parts was excellent. The play follows the young woman’s interactions with her schoolmates, as well as her scientific musings about why stars seem to be limited in terms of how much mass they can contain. I won't be a spoiler, but rest assured, the plot is compelling. So are the stunning visual effects. The play was scientifically accurate, extremely well-written, and very well acted.

Afterwards, Michael, Mark, Jim, and I gathered on stage for a "talkback," a panel discussion about the play. I was stunned by how well astronomy had been incorporated into the production. Michael, Mark, and Jim described the months-long process of collaboration that yielded the show.

Again, without giving too much away, I thought this play could have been entitled Birth and Death of Stars for its compelling depictions of both the beginning and the end of impressive scientific careers. I found myself wondering what the young woman would be like in 50+ years as her own career comes to a close. Overall, this was an excellent play with wonderful performances. Go see it!

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