UW-Green Bay Theatre will tell the true-life tale of dream job turned nightmare scenario beginning Feb. 28, presenting the play These Shining Lives in Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.
Playwright Melanie Marnich’s work chronicles the story of four women who fought back against the 1920s-era Radium Dial Company after their work at the company made them sick. Despite numerous assurances that radium was safe, many women fell ill and many died from the effects of the poisonous chemical element.
“A lot of women went to work painting clock and watch dial faces with radium-laced paint, because they glowed in the dark,” said Associate Prof. John Mariano, the play’s director. “And when they first began, they were led to believe that radium was completely harmless. A lot of people believed that. There were people who actually took radium for therapeutic purposes.”
Not only that, but these were good jobs for women, many of whom had never before worked outside the home. For many, it was the chance to make more money than their fathers ever did — for some, more than their husbands. It meant a newfound sense of independence that coincided with the social change of the time, said UW-Green Bay senior Chelsea Crevcoure, who plays Charlotte.
“It’s about relationships,” she said. “You know, it’s about these four women — they can vote, they can smoke, they can kiss in public, they can do all this stuff. And they finally have all this freedom, and they just make these great friendships with each other.”
The play highlights the challenges the women face through illness, and through fighting back in court — which ends up being a much more significant battle than they initially imagine, said UW-Green Bay junior Stephanie Frank, who plays main character Catherine. Because the play is based on a true story, cast members have done extensive research into the time and their characters, Crevcoure added.
“It was a big deal for women to be going to court and filing a lawsuit against their company,” she said. “So it’s really fun and interesting to put myself into that position — because it’s hard for me to imagine.”
Performance of These Shining Lives will take place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 1-2 and 6-9 in the Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at UW-Green Bay.
Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door for adults; $12 in advance and $15 at the door for children (under 18) and seniors; and $10 for UW-Green Bay students. Order online at www.uwgb.edu/tickets or by calling (920) 465-2400 or (800) 328-tkts.
A video on the UW-Green Bay Theatre production of These Shining Lives is available online: click here.
Cast of These Shining Lives: Stephanie Frank, Abigail Lee, Chelsea Crevcoure, Erin Sunisa, Andrew Delaurelle, Randall J. Tranowski.