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They Promised Her the Moon

April 6 – May 5, 2019
(Opening night: Thursday, April 11)

Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre
Conrad Prebys Theatre Center

West Coast premiere
By Laurel Ollstein
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli

In 1960 the famed “Mercury Seven” trained at NASA to become the first American astronauts. But they weren’t alone. Thirteen women also underwent the same rigorous psychological and physical testing. The first woman to be tested, Jerrie Cobb, even out-performed her male counterparts. But while Alan Shepard and John Glenn went on to become household names, Ms. Cobb never got that chance. In vividly theatrical terms, the West Coast premiere of They Promised Her the Moon tells the unknown true story of this exceptional and unjustly overlooked woman—skilled aviator, world-record-holding pilot, successful business executive—and the powerful forces that kept her from reaching orbit. Contains strong language.

Production Sponsors
Ann Davies
Elaine Lipinsky Family Foundation
Globe Guilders

They Promised Her the Moon is a recipient of a 2018 Social Impact Theatre Grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation.


Publicity Photos

Laurel Ollstein
Laurel Ollstein. Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
Giovanna Sardelli
Giovanna Sardelli. Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
Artwork courtesy of The Old Globe.
Artwork courtesy of The Old Globe.

Cast and Creative


Laurel Ollstein (Playwright, They Promised Her the Moon) is an award-winning playwright/director based in Los Angeles. In 2018 Ms. Ollstein’s They Promised Her the Moon was part of the Powers New Voices Festival at The Old Globe. In 2017 Moon had a showcase production Off Broadway at Theatre at St. Clement’s, produced by Miranda Theatre Company. She began her career as an actress before becoming a writer. Her one-woman show Laughter, Hope and a Sock in the Eye, about Dorothy Parker, was performed across the country, winning critics’ choice awards along the way. Ms. Ollstein was a founding member of Tim Robbins’s The Actors’ Gang, where her plays Cheese, Pot Roast, and Insomniac were produced. Her other plays include Storage Room, OPA! The Musical, Dorothy Parker Is in the Bath, Blackwell’s Corner, Esther’s Moustache, The Dark Ages, Bias Cut, and Unhappily Married in Valencia. She also directs playwriting programs serving mature adults and teens, provides writing and arts education in schools, and creates plays on social justice themes. One result of this work is Showing Our Age, a play with music about aging produced at [Inside] The Ford, for which she received an NEA grant. Ms. Ollstein also writes essays, memoirs, screenplays, and television and holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from UCLA.

Giovanna Sardelli (Director, They Promised Her the Moon) directed in Los Angeles the world premiere of Archduke (Mark Taper Forum) and Guards at the Taj (2016 Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play) and Constellations (Geffen Playhouse). Her select Off Broadway world premieres include Little Children Dream of God (Roundabout Theatre Company), Wildflower, Animals Out of Paper, and All This Intimacy (Second Stage Theatre), Apple Cove (Women’s Project Theater), and Huck and Holden (Cherry Lane Theatre). Her other Off Broadway plays include Describe the Night (Atlantic Theater Company) and Finks (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Her regional credits include Somewhere and The Whipping Man (The Old Globe), the world premiere of An Entomologist’s Love Story (San Francisco Playhouse), the world premiere of Describe the Night (Alley Theatre), Mr. Wolf, All the Way, and The Whipping Man (Cleveland Play House), The Mountaintop and Absalom (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Clybourne Park, Lord of the Flies, Muckrakers, and The North Pool (Barrington Stage Company), and Crimes of the Heart, The Velocity of Autumn, The Lake Effect, Somewhere, and The North Pool (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley). Though based in New York, Ms. Sardelli is the Director of New Works for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. She received her M.F.A. from New York University’s Graduate Acting program and is a graduate of its Directors Lab.