NEW YORK — A new play focusing on a privately run program to test women for spaceflight in the early 1960s opens tonight (May 15) in the off-Broadway Theatre at St. Clements in New York. Preview performances started May 12, and the show will run until May 27.
"They Promised Her the Moon," produced by the Miranda Theatre Company, follows the story of Jerrie Cobb, a pilot who was part of an independent astronaut-testing program — women who came to be known as the Mercury 13, paralleling the first seven men selected for NASA's Mercury program, called the Mercury 7.
Cobb and other women passed physical testing equivalent to that done by NASA, which was run by Randy Lovelace, the NASA contractor who performed the tests on the official Mercury astronauts. However, Lovelace's program eventually ended and none of the women made it to space — America's first female astronauts weren't selected until 1978.
Tickets for "They Promised Her the Moon" are available online. Three performances will feature talk-back panels after the show:
― A discussion of the status of women in the media and popular imagination (May 16 after the 7 p.m. performance), featuring Ms. Magazine co-founder Joanne Edgar and news anchor Carol Jenkins.
― A look at the future of women in science, technology, engineering and math (May 21 after the 3 p.m. performance_, featuring Melissa Lane, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, and Girls Who Code co-founding president Nicole Valencia.
― And a conversation about the challenges of portraying famous women (May 22 after the 7 p.m. performance), featuring Amanda Quaid, who plays Jerrie Cobb, and Andrus Nichols, who plays Jackie Cochran, a pilot and sponsor of the Mercury 13 program.