The department of theatre at Hope College will be honoring area teachers with a special preview performance of "Defying Gravity" by Jane Anderson on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m.

Christa McAuliffe, the teacher assigned to the fateful Jan. 28, 1986, flight of the "Challenger" space shuttle, was the inspiration behind the play. But, according to John Tammi of the Hope theatre faculty, who is directing, "Defying Gravity" is not about disaster but about curiosity and the delight of discovery.

"This play celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of tragic loss," he said. "In this way it is very timely. But it also pays homage to everyone who encourages people to reach beyond their limitations in order to learn and discover. In short, it is what teachers do day in and day out, year after year. This special preview is our way of indicating our respect and appreciation for all they do."

The play will open to the public on Friday, April 19, and continues on Saturday, April 20, and Wednesday- Saturday, April 24-27. All performances will be at 8 p.m. except for the Thursday, April 25, performance, which will begin at 9 p.m.

All performances will be in the main theatre of the DeWitt Center, located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. Ticket information may be obtained by calling the theatre lobby ticket office at (616) 395-7890 on Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturday between noon and 5 p.m.

Additional information about the special teacher preview may be obtained by calling the department of theatre's office at (616) 395-7600.