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Five Reasons To See ... Bright Star

By • Off-West End
Bright Star captures the life story of Beatrice Tinsley, a New Zealand astronomer whose work has profoundly influenced our understanding of the universe. An astrophysicist, wife and gifted musician, she struggled against prejudice in the male-dominated scientific community of the 1970's. Her work proves to be right – but success comes at great personal cost.

Stuart Hoar's play is directed by Ali Wall, with the show produced at the Tabard Theatre by producers Firebrand Productions and Creative Cat with support from Women into Science, Engineering and Construction and funding from the Science & Technology Facilities Council and the Royal Astronomical Society.

Producer Violetta Tosic gives us her five reasons to come and see the show


1. It's a play about real stars

And we don't mean the celebrity kind. This production looks at the real life story of astronomer Beatrice Tinsley. Born in Cheshire, Beatrice emigrated to New Zealand with her family during World War Two. Beatrice was a remarkable woman - an astronomer and cosmologist, wife, mother, daughter and gifted musician. Bright Star is Beatrice's story of the complexities involved in being such a character in the male dominated world of the University of Dallas, Texas in the 1970s.

2. The science factor

Described by Terry Marsh, director of Women into Science, Engineering and Construction, as "a fabulous pairing of art and science", Bright Star is a very human play set in a scientific context. Beatrice Tinsley's PhD thesis, The Evolution of Galaxies and its Significance for Cosmology, was a pioneering document that explored how stars age, and the impact of this on the observable qualities of galaxies. Her galaxy models led to the first approximation of what protogalaxies should look like.

3. Wit and witty

It's about science and the stars, so we know it's smart but the brilliant thing is, it's also funny. Written by Stuart Hoar, a prominent New Zealand playwright and recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, Bright Star presents the complex theories in a touching and witty way. It's directed by London based New Zealander and comedy queen, Alison Wall, adept at highlighting all of the funny notes. The international cast bring the characters to life with charm and humour as Kiwi candour clashes with the staid academia of the University of Dallas.

4. It's current

At its heart it's a simple story of a woman and all that she loves. Constantly torn between career and family, Beatrice Tinsley's story is one we can all recognise today. Forty years from Beatrice's time, the same difficulties remain. It's a human tale that reaches for the stars whilst tugging at the heart strings.

5. Proof that Kiwi's and Aussie's can get along!

The story is written and directed by New Zealanders about a New Zealander but the producers and the lead actress are Australians! They cast and crew have put their warring over the origins of the pavlova aside and have come together to tell this international tale.


Bright Star opens at the Tabard Theatre on 11 November (previews from 9 November 2010) where it runs until 27 November.

- Alicia Sutton


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