We are a mere THREE DAYS from opening night of Silent Sky! The cast and crew have been in tech all weekend, working hard to put the final touches on this production. This is a perfect time to take a peek at the amazing director: Dr. Vivian Appler.
Vivian Appler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. She holds an M.A. from Queen Mary, University of London and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. At the College of Charleston, she teaches courses in theatre history, devised theatre, and script analysis. She has taught theatre practice and history at the College of William and Mary, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Penn State Abington. Her research interests include science and performance, practice-as-research, puppetry and mask, and activist theatre. Her writing has been published in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Comparative Drama, and the forthcoming Routledge Guide to Jacques Lecoq. She is currently developing a monograph about women performing science. Vivian has extensive practical experience in devised and physical theatre. She has acted, directed, devised, and designed masks and puppets in Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Pittsburgh, and Charleston. She holds a certificate in Physical Theatre from the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. In 2010, she was granted a Fulbright Fellowship for which she worked in residence at the Dimitri Clown School in Verscio, Switzerland, in order to research, write, and design masks and puppets for the science-integrative play, Particle Play: A Romance for Quarks, Strings, and Other Things. Her solo show, In the Still of the Night: Andromeda’s Dark Stuff premiered in 2013.
As noted above, her research greatly aligns with Silent Sky which is why, she says, she was so attracted to this play. More specifically she says, “it’s a play that features Henrietta Leavitt, who was a significant woman in the history of science, but whose story is often downplayed or isn’t as well-known as perhaps it should be.” She goes on to talk about the virtual invisibility of many women in science. Their names are often left off their own work and they are not given due credit for their work. She says this play, and pieces like it, are important because “representational theatre that portrays these women normalizes the woman scientist in a position of authority” and with time women will be depicted in these roles more and more. She also, of course, notes Annie Jump Cannon’s role as a suffragette as another parallel to our current cultural climate.
Her interest in and passion for feminism also lends itself to this play, as well as her recognition that we must include women of all races. On this note she says, “I really think and I hope that we’re in a fourth wave of feminism now, one that really presses on intersectional issues within feminism, where we openly invite an inclusive process. That the struggle is really for equality for all people, not just for white women.”