‘Silent Sky’: ‘It’s not just a guy’s world’

Driftwood show focuses on female astronomers
By Jesse Blair | Feb 08, 2019

Director Eric Bischoff hopes his new show at Driftwood Theater, “Silent Sky,” will open some eyes.

“This is about three forgotten female astronomers in the early part of the 20th century from about 1900 to 1920,” he said. “It’s about how one of them discovered the secrets to measuring the universe.”

The story chronicles the journey and struggles that women faced to break into a male-dominated workforce and achieve success in the scientific community. Bischoff hopes it will open eyes in the same way the book and movie “Hidden Figures” showed what was going on behind the scenes to send astronauts to the moon.

The play is has a small cast of four women and one man. The three women portray real, published and renowned astronomers of the era who have mostly been forgotten.

The man views the women as mostly helpers and assistants, representing the culture at the time. But throughout the course of the play, he begins to understand, respect and admire their efforts. This change reflects how society was also changing.

Bischoff hopes audiences will come to appreciate some forgotten figures in American science and inspire people to pursue that field.

“Especially some young women, to take a look at science and technology and engineering, and know that they can make a contribution. It’s not just a guy’s world.”

Bischoff refers to himself as an “old theater guy.” After receiving his degree in theater from Boise State in the late ’70s, he started auditioning up and down the West Coast. Seattle was experiencing one of its theater booms, and he picked up many roles. Eventually, he transitioned to directing.

“I got into directing and when you are a starving artist, and directing pays more than acting, you kind of start to direct more shows,” Bischoff said.

Driftwood is one of the first places that gave him the chance to direct in the ’80s. His shows included “Harvey,” “Snoopy,” “The Ritz” and “Leaving Iowa.” Now that he’s older and getting back into theater, Bischoff said Driftwood has been a good place for him to return to.

“It’s a great space,” he said. “It’s a great bunch of people.”

One of the benefits Bischoff finds with directing is that it allows him to express himself, and in this case to tell a story that hasn’t been told.

“This story shows how to find out where we are in the universe, and telling stories that people don’t know about is very satisfying.”

Make no mistake – theater takes a lot of work. Not counting the production meetings and technical aspects involved, Bischoff and his cast rehearse a minimum of five days per week for three or four hours a night.

“So it’s a lot of work. But it is also a lot of fun,” Bischoff said. “We don’t do it to get rich. We do it for the enjoyment of it.”

After “Silent Sky,” Bischoff’s next directorial project is “Title of Show” at Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts in Marysville. It opens in late May.

“It’s a small musical,” he said. “It’s a fun little show.”

"Silent Sky" runs Feb. 8-24 at Wade James Theater, 950 Main St., Edmonds. Info: edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org.

 

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