‘Radium Girls’ illuminates Douglas High School drama stage
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: “Radium Girls”
WHERE: DHS drama room
WHEN: May 5-6 and 12-13. Show times are 7 p.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays
COST: Tickets, $10 at the door, pre-sale $5 and can be purchased at the front office or from a cast member.
During the 1920s, radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches were the latest trend — until more than half of the women who painted them died as a direct result of radium paint poisoning.
Based on true events, “Radium Girls” — Douglas High School’s newest production — traces the accounts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her life and a day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumors could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illnesses among his employees.
As the case goes on, Fryer finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corp., but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire.
Drama teacher and director Amy Sando said she chose to produce “Radium Girls” because she enjoys plays based on history and the opportunity it gives the audience and cast to learn about an important historical event.
“Not many have heard about the radium girls and their fight against corporate injustice that helped change labor laws and offer more protection in the work force,” said Sando. “I think it is an important and gripping story to tell.”
Sando said the drama is adapted from D.W. Gregory’s “Radium Girls.” It was originally produced at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey and under a commission from Ensemble Studio Theatre of New York, where it was subsequently revised. It is based on the women and men who worked for the U.S. Radium Corp. in Orange, N.J., between 1918 and 1928, according to dwgregory.com
“The play shows women trying to take control and stand up for the smaller people in a company and gives them a voice in right versus wrong,” said junior Madison Vickers, who plays Grace Fryer. “I like showing new points of view that are related to real problems through the characters in a play.”
Sophomore Tully Rosa, who plays Kathryn Schaub, likes finding similarities between herself and the characters she portrays.
“I related to Kathryn because, like me, she tries to see the light and good in people first and doesn’t want to believe the darkness that can be controlled by others,” said Rosa. “And we both will stand up for what we believe is right given the situation.”
Lighting and set design is an important element in a production like “Radium Girls,” according to sophomores Annabelle Vogel and Chandler Harwood.
Vogel is responsible for lighting and special effects while Harwood works on set designs.
“Lighting adds elements that actors can’t give, without it the play would be boring and dark,” said Vogel. “It also foreshadows and softens transitions between scenes.”
Harwood said the props have to be related to the time period and relevant to the scene.
“Radium Girls” opens in 1917 and focuses on Fryer and Arthur Roeder, president of U.S. Radium Corp., shifting from factory to office to courtroom.
“This is a story of science, the media, corporate greed and the fight for justice,” said Sando.
The production will show May 5-6 and 12-13. Show times are 7 p.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets, $10 at the door, pre-sales are $5 and can be purchased in the front office at the high school or from a cast member.