Defying Gravity, a Play at the Columbia Memorial Space Center Sept 20-22

Defying Gravity at CMSC

The Downey Arts Coalition, in partnership with the City of Downey and the Aerospace Legacy Foundation, is proud to announce a unique weekend of live theater under the stars this September at the outdoor amphitheater of the Columbia Memorial Space Center.

Columbia Memorial Space CenterFor three nights, we will be presenting a fully staged production of Defying Gravity by Jane Anderson, a compelling play about the Challenger space shuttle tragedy.

Friday & Saturday September 20, 21 at 8 PM, Sunday September 22 at 7PM.

Tickets are $20 ($15 students with student ID).

The Columbia Memorial Space Center was built by the City of Downey as a monument to the efforts of ordinary men and women who played a major role in the success of the US space program through their work at North American Aviation (and later Rockwell) in the 1960’s and 70’s. This play is a family event that will allow all generations to come together to experience and contemplate a pivotal chapter in aerospace history.

Through this effort, we hope to inspire greater awareness and support for the Space Center, and its goal of building a permanent home for the full-size shuttle mock-up Inspiration as an educational exhibit for both students and adults.

challenger-disaster-myths-explosion_31734_600x450Defying Gravity explores the emotional core of the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, artfully weaving together the lives of participants and bystanders.  The civilian teacher leads us through the excitement of the opportunity before her, juxtaposed with the deeply felt grief of her daughter, balanced with the bold aspirations of elderly tourists who drive to watch the launch, the guilt felt by a NASA mechanic, and even the parallels drawn from Painter Claude Monet’s artistic quest.  The play explores our need to reach beyond ourselves and dare the universe.

There is no greater venue for this play about human dreams and endeavors. One of the Apollo capsules sits out in front of the center and the shuttle mock-up Inspiration is on display across the street.  The outdoor performances under the stars underscore the themes of the play, and the human drive to question and explore.  The Columbia Memorial Space Center is one of the designated venues for touring Smithsonian exhibits because of the caliber of its exhibits and programs.

The show will be a moving, engaging, entertaining, and educational experience not to be missed.  Aerospace professionals and retirees will experience their memories of the drama alongside the fresh eyes of a new generation that was born after the tragedy took place.  With a set by theatre designer Geronimo Guzman, multimedia projection of images and video, theatrical lighting and sound, it is sure to be an evening not to miss.

CMSC_5_EditedAndrew Wahlquist and Lana Joy Wahlquist are directing and producing the show, as a project of the Downey Arts Coalition, which they organized out of a love for their hometown and a desire to see the community come together with a renewed passion for the arts.  Andrew is a filmmaker working in the post-production industry, and Lana Joy has worked in the world of professional theater as an actor, director, and college professor.  Since its founding in 2012, the Downey Arts Coalition has grown in membership and audience attendance as it sponsors an increasing variety of local art events.

Tickets are available through the Downey Civic Theatre Box office.  For tickets or for more information call the box office at (562) 861-8211 or visit online at Box office hours are Tuesday – Friday from 11am – 6pm. Ticket office is located at 8435 Firestone Blvd Downey CA 90241.

If you or your business would like to help financially by becoming a sponsor of the show, or place an ad in the show’s program, please contact for more information.

Defying Gravity at CMSC


Defying Gravity

By Downey Arts Coalition

Downey Arts Coalition is a movement of several people, however this website is currently managed and updated by Andrew J Wahlquist.

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