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Join us on October 25 for a staged reading of the pilot episode of The Harvard Computers—an original television series written by Graham Sack and executive produced by Jennifer 8. Lee, recipients of the 2021 Sundance Institute / Sloan Foundation Episodic Fellowship.
The cast for this reading includes Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Succession, The Deuce), Javier Muñoz (Hamilton, In The Heights), Max Jenkins (Special, Dead To Me, High Maintenance), Daphne Rubin-Vega (RENT), and Damian Young (Ozark, House of Cards), amongst others. See below for the full cast.
The reading will be followed by a conversation with Graham Sack and Jennifer 8. Lee, moderated by Janna Levin, the Pioneer Works Director of Sciences.
The Harvard Computers centers around Williamina Fleming, a twenty-one-year-old Scottish immigrant abandoned by her husband while pregnant after arriving in Boston. With nowhere to turn, Williamina takes a job as a maid in the home of brothers Edward and Henry Pickering, a pair of Harvard professors obsessed with discovering the secrets of the night sky—one through hard facts, the other through fanciful theories. Recognizing Williamina’s intelligence and frustrated by the complacency of his male graduate students, Edward hires her into the Harvard Observatory, where she assembles a group of unlikely scientists—working class women from Boston’s immigrant ghettos and the first graduates of America’s newly formed women’s colleges. Among them are Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Antonia Maury, and Annie Jump Cannon.
Dedicated and resolute despite fraught circumstances, uncelebrated in their lifetimes, dismissively dubbed “Pickering’s Harem,” the group labored over the successive years (1878-1919) to contribute enduring discoveries that proved foundational to 20th century astronomy.
Series development of The Harvard Computers has been generously supported by the Sundance Institute, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Pioneer Works.
Chris Carfizzi as August Winthrop
Annabelle Dexter-Jones as Williamina Fleming
Danny Flaherty as Nathaniel Cabot
Catherine Gowl as Reader
Max Jenkins as Henry Pickering
Layla Khoshnoudi as Lizzie Sparks
Javier Muñoz as Edward Pickering
Daphne Rubin-Vega as Isabella
Greig Sargeant as Harvard President
Chris Stack as James Fleming
Damian Young as Williamina's Father & Senator Cabot-Lodge
Lorrie Odom as Mary Anna Draper, Mrs. Reynolds & Lucy Stone
Davram Stiefler as Christopher Piedmont
About Graham Sack
Graham Sack is an award-winning filmmaker and academic whose work explores the intersection of storytelling, scientific discovery, and technological innovation. He is the founder of Chronotope Films and the recipient of the 2021 Sundance Institute / Sloan Episodic Fellowship for The Harvard Computers. Graham previously adapted and directed George Saunders’s best-selling novel Lincoln in the Bardo (winner of the Man Booker prize) into an immersive film that was shortlisted for an Emmy Award for Innovation in Interactive Programming, funded and distributed by the New York Times, and called one of the “top 5 must-see virtual reality experiences of the year” by Time Magazine.
His screenplay Septillion to One made the Hollywood Blacklist and sold to Madison Wells Media in one of the most competitive spec sales of the year with Mark Romanek attached to direct. His other projects have received support from Google, Samsung, and Felix & Paul Studios and appeared at Tribeca Film Festival, SXSW, New York Theater Workshop, Sotheby’s, and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. His other screenplays won the Final Draft Big Break Competition and placed in the finals for the Nicholl Fellowship.
Graham began his career acting on Broadway in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers and in TV shows such as Law & Order and New York Undercover. He holds a PhD in English & Comparative Literature from Columbia University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a BA in Physics from Harvard College. He is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis and is on faculty in the Film and Media Program at Johns Hopkins University. He is an alum of New Inc., the New Museum’s art, design, and technology incubator, and a member of the Writers Guild of America, Writers Guild of Canada, Screen Actors Guild, and Actors Equity Association.
Learn more about his new media production company Chronotope Films here.
About Jennifer 8. Lee
Jennifer 8. Lee is an entrepreneur, documentary producer, journalist, seed investor and emoji activist.
She has co-led an Angel List seed investment fund for Y Combinator, was a 2018 Fast Company Most Creative Person in Business, and is a Sundance Institute / Sloan Episodic Fellow. She is co-founder and CEO of Plympton, a literary studio that innovates in digital publishing.
A former New York Times reporter, Jenny is a producer of The Search for General Tso and The Emoji Story (formerly Picture Character), both which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festivals. She was also an executive producer for The Price, which premiered at SXSW, and an associate producer for Give Me Liberty and the Emmy-winning Chasing Coral, both of which premiered at Sundance. She is also the author of the New York Times-bestselling book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles (Twelve, 2008), which established fortune cookies are originally Japanese. Jenny's recent work focuses a lot on misinformation, having co-founded the Credibility Coalition and MisinfoCon. She is a co-chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Futures Council for Media, Entertainment and Sport. She is the founder of Emojination, a grassroots group whose motto is "Emoji by the people, for the people."
Jenny has served as the lead judge for the $25 million Knight News Challenge, and on the launch team for Upworthy. She coined the term "man date." Jenny also serves on the the Center for Public Integrity, MuckRock Foundation, the Digital Public Library of America, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Hacks/Hackers and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Inside Climate News. She also serves on the committees for the New York Public Library Young Lions, the Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards, and SXSW programming.
Jenny graduated with a degree in Applied Math and Economics from Harvard, where she was vice president of The Harvard Crimson.
About the Cast
Chris Carfizzi is best known as the plucky analyst, Rudy, from Showtime’s Billions. He’s also appeared in NBC’s The Blacklist, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Daredevil. His original short film, The Finger, was selected for the Nantucket Film Festival. His sketch, White Privilege Frankenstein, was shared by Jonathan Capehart and Charles Blow. Chris began his career in opera and musical theater. He has appeared in musicals on tour and off-Broadway and was featured singing Nessun Dorma in episode 412 of Billions. Once he was asked to perform his impression of Nathan Lane in front of Nathan Lane.
Annabelle Dexter-Jones burst onto the acting scene in 2003 in Wholey Moses and has since appeared in Holy Motors, Ava’s Possessions, #Horror, and White Girl. She was awarded the 2013 Gen Art Film Festival's Rising Star Award for her portrayal of Charlotte in Julian Ungano’s And After All. She made her directorial debut with the short film Cecile on the Phone, which she co-wrote and also stars in, which premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. She drew notice for her turn as Naomi Pierce in the second season of the HBO hit drama SUCCESSION and she can currently be seen reprising her role in the third season, airing now.
Danny Flaherty is an American actor who was born and raised in Bergen County NJ. He is the youngest of four children and started acting professionally at the age of 12 when he signed with his manager. Danny can be seen in many television series and films over the years including THE AMERICANS, SKINS, THE LEFTOVERS, NURSE JACKIE, THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, and many others. He is an avid skateboarder, singer songwriter, and filmmaker.
Catherine Gowl is an actor, puppeteer, and educator. She was most recently seen as Penelope and Circe in Quantum Theatre's AN ODYSSEY in Pittsburgh.Other Pittsburgh credits include: KING LEAR (Quantum Theatre); ELECTRA AND THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Pittsburgh Public Theater); THE FATHER (Kinetic Theatre Company); and PROJECT AMELIA (Bricolage Production Company). Her New York credits include: THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (Theater for a New Audience); HAGOROMO (Brooklyn Academy of Music); CASABLANCABOX (HERE Arts Center), OH THE HUMANITY AND OTHER EXCLAMATIONS (Flea Theater); and many new works. Selected Regional: IN THE ERUPTIVE MODE (Sabab Theater at Arts Emerson), SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, KING LEAR, CORIOLANUS, Coriolanus, The Women, A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Old Globe); Private Lives (Riverside Theatre); Taming of the Shrew, Othello (Virginia Shakespeare Festival); Demolishing Everything With Amazing Speed (Bard Summerscape); and the North American tour of War Horse. Company Member: Blessed Unrest. Training: AB in History and Literature from Harvard, MFA in Acting from The Old Globe/USD.
Max Jenkins will star in Ana Nogueira’s HERE SHE IS, BOYS at MCC in April 2022. Other theatre: BIG NIGHT (Kirk Douglas/Center Theatre Group), CARNIVAL KIDS (Lesser America), UNNATURAL ACTS (also co-wrote; Drama Desk nom for Best Play - Classic Stage Company), THE LAST GOODBYE (Williamstown Theatre Festival). TV: “SPECIAL,” “DEAD TO ME” (SAG Award nomination for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series) and ”SOCIAL DISTANCE” (all Netflix), “HIGH MAINTENANCE” (HBO), “THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA" (NBC).
Layla Khoshnoudi: MFA, Brooklyn College. Select Theater: MEN ON BOATS (Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons); DANCE NATION (Playwrights Horizons); BULL IN A CHINA SHOP (LCT3); DIDO OF IDAHO (Ensemble Studio Theater); WYOMING (Lesser America); MY DAUGHTER KEEPS OUR HAMMER (Flea Theater). TV: INSTINCT; FBI. FILM: CLOSURE (wrote & directed); LONG NIGHTS, SHORT MORNINGS; NADIA JAAN; ANDROGEN; BOOKENDS.
Javier Muñoz is an actor and activist whose impressive body of work spans theater, film and television. Javier is best known for starring as "Alexander Hamilton” in the cultural-phenomenon musical HAMILTON on Broadway for two years, after Lin-Manuel Miranda departed the show (and was his alternate prior to that). He got his break starring as “Usnavi” in IN THE HEIGHTS on Broadway, also created by Miranda. Javier recently starred in the dark comedy indie feature, MONUMENTS. On the TV sides, he’s appeared on Shadowhunters, Blindspot and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Recent theater credits include THE NEW ENGLANDERS at MTC and the starring role in the North American premiere of Stephen Lloyd Helper’s A SIGN OF THE TIMES. He will soon voice a lead character in the Disney Jr. animated series, Eureka!
Javier is also an outspoken activist for LGBTQ+ rights and a Global Ambassador for (RED), which fights to end HIV/AIDS. Muñoz was honored with the prestigious OUT100 "Breakout of the Year" award in 2016, as well as the Howard Ashman Award by the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). Javier serves on the Board of GMHC.
Daphne Rubin-Vega was most recently seen starring as ‘Daniela’ in the Warner Brothers feature IN THE HEIGHTS, directed by Jon Chu. She recently wrapped production on two pilots – Hulu’s OLGA DIES DREAMING and NBC’s DANGEROUS MOMS – and the independent feature ALLSWELL, which she also produced. She is also voicing a role in the A24 animated series HAZBIN HOTEL. During the early months of the pandemic, she shot the Netflix series SOCIAL DISTANCE, produced by Jenji Kohan and Tara Hermann, and SAME STORM, the newest Peter Hedges film. Additional TV credits include KATY KEENE (CW) and TALES OF THE CITY (Netflix). A staple of the New York theatre community, Daphne earned a Tony nomination for her portrayal of ‘Mimi’ in the original cast of RENT, and another for ANNA IN THE TROPICS. She recently starred in the musical, MISS YOU LIKE HELL at The Public Theatre, and in the one-woman show EMPANADA LOCA, which was written for her. She helped adapt the play into the scripted podcast, THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH, which is currently in pre-production for Amazon TV. Additional theater credits include Broadway revivals of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, and LES MIS; TWO SISTERS AND A PIANO and F*CKING A at The Public; ROMEO & JULIET at Classic Stage; and JACK GOES BOATING opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Greig Sargeant: Philadelphia Fringe Festival: Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge. NYTW: Bonnie’s Last Flight, Fondly, Collette Richland, The Little Foxes dir. Ivo van Hove, The Sound and the Fury. The Public Theater: Measure for Measure, The Sound and the Fury. The Vineyard Theater: Strictly Dishonorable. BAM/Next Wave Festival: The Parable Conference. Baryshnikov Arts Center: Go Forth/Please Bury Me. ERS: Gatz. Target Margin: Uncle Vanya. Regional: The Walker Arts Center, RedCat, Axial Theater, Johnny Carson Theater, Montclair State Theater, The Spoleto Festival. International: Culturegest - Lisbon, Vienna Festival, Holland Festival, Adelaide Festival. Film: Help Me Mary dir. by Annie Tippe, The Bad Infinity dir. by Graham Sack. Company Member: Target Margin Theater, Elevator Repair Service. Training: West Virginia University (MFA), William Esper.
Chris Stack: LESSONS IN SURVIVAL (The Commissary with The Vineyard Theater, NY Times Best of 2020), SECRET LIFE OF BEES and BLUE RIDGE (Atlantic Theater), UGLY LIES THE BONE (Roundabout Underground) AFGHANISTAN, ZIMBABWE, AMERICA, KUWAIT (Rattlestick/Rising Phoenix Rep), WAYSIDE MOTOR INN (Signature Theater), YOUR MOTHER'S COPY OF THE KAMA SUTRA (Playwrights Horizons), MARIE ANTOINETTE (Soho Rep), KILLERS & OTHER FAMILY (Rattlestick). Regional: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN (Echo Theater L.A.), THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN'S WINDOW (Goodman Theater), LOVE IN THE WARS (Bard Summerscape), LOVE & COMMUNICATION (Passage Theater); TV & Film: Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods, White Collar, One Life To Live, As The World Turns, Damages, Third Watch, Conviction, The Education of Max Bickford; Midday Black Midnight Blue (recently completed), A Better Half (recently completed), Either Side of Midnight, Evening, The Mini, School of Rock, Roger Dodger, Small Collection, and Juke.
Lorrie Odom is a New York based actress. You can see her on shows and in movies like: SEPARATION, BODY CAM, STILL HERE, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC, FRIENDS FROM COLLEGE, SCANDAL, QUEEN SUGAR, GOTHAM, MR.ROBOT, PERSON OF INTEREST, THE BLACKLIST, GIRLS, KINGS, VEEP, LAW & ORDER: SVU, HOMELAND, SHUT EYE on Hulu and more.
Davram Stiefler is half of The Good Liars, a comedy duo whose antics have drawn national media coverage from The New York Times, Rachel Maddow, CNN and others. He has been a house performer at UCB Theater and has been featured in several films and television shows including ABC's The Family, Difficult People, Lez Bomb, Undecided and will star in the upcoming comedy The Supporters.