"Defying Gravity," a play by award- winning playwright Jane Anderson, will be presented by Hope College Theatre starting Friday, April 19, in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

The play will continue on Saturday, April 20, and Wednesday-Saturday, April 24-27. All performances will be at 8 p.m.

Christa McAuliffe, the teacher assigned to the ill-fated Jan. 28, 1986, flight of the "Challenger" space shuttle, was the inspiration behind the play. According to John Tammi of the Hope theatre faculty, who is directing the production, "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."

Appearing in the cast are: junior Katie Carlston of Des Moines, Iowa, as the Teacher; freshman Clarissa S. Gregory of Portage, Wis., as Elizabeth; sophomore Matthew Farmer of Bangor as Monet; sophomore Michaun Elise Burton of Columbus, Ohio, as Donna; junior Joshua Brandenburg of Mount Vernon, Ohio, as C.B.; junior Brenna Bosma of Orland Park, Ill., as Betty; sophomore Erik Saxvik of Libertyville, Ill., as Ed; and Julia Armstrong, a kindergarten student at Washington School in Holland, as Elizabeth at age five.

Several other students have significant responsibilities in the production. Assisting Tammi with directing is senior Misheaila Neil of Hastings. Jill A. Nyquist, a senior from South Holland, Ill., is providing dramaturgy support. Amanda Joy Weener, a sophomore from Grand Rapids, is the stage manager.

Working with faculty scenic designer Richard Smith are freshman Rachel Jamieson of West Bloomfield, as assistant designer, and junior Ryan Graves of Greencastle, Ind., in charge of computer animations and projections. Assisting faculty sound and lighting designer Perry Landes are: senior Andrew French of Paw Paw, as research assistant in sound; senior Tomas Tiggleman-Springer of Grand Rapids, as assistant sound designer; and senior Rebecca McCoy of Kalamazoo, as assistant lighting designer. Faculty member Michelle Bombe is designing costumes and makeup.

Tickets are $7 for regular adult admission, $5 for members of the college's faculty and staff, and $4 for senior citizens and students, and are available at the theatre lobby ticket office of the DeWitt Center. The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and until curtain time on performance nights, and can be called at (616) 395- 7890.

The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.