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USD Theatre Puts Theatre in the Round with 'These Shining Lives'

These Shining Lives at USD Theatre Alyeska Krull and Chloe Sand (pictured from left to right) in "These Shining Lives."

VERMILLION, SD -- The University of South Dakota’s Department of Theatre presents Melanie Marnich’s hauntingly beautiful play, “These Shining Lives.” Based on actual events and inspired by the actions of real women in the 1920s, this stylized play tells the largely forgotten story of the “Radium Girls.”

Catherine Donohue and her coworkers worked in factories during the early part of the twentieth century painting watch dials, only to later be diagnosed with severe radiation poisoning. “These Shining Lives” chronicles the strength and determination of women considered expendable in their day and how they rose against the company that stole their health. Instead of quietly accepting their situation, these women fought back with every ounce they had left. Despite their deteriorating health, the women fought until they won their case against the Radium Dial Company in 1938. The legacy of the Radium Girls lives on through the ripples that their fight towards justice inspired and created in labor laws and workers’ rights that we have today.

Performed in the intimate setting of USD’s Arena Theatre, the audience is close and engaged in every aspect of the action.

“We have decided to stage the show in the round, which always offers a great deal of directing challenges as it creates a wonderful intimate relationship between the performers and the audience,” Raimondo Genna, director of the play and chair of the USD theatre department, said. “That, along with the episodic nature of the play itself, allows for some wonderful storytelling opportunities and experimentation.”

Each seat in the audience will offer a unique viewpoint of the inspirational show.

“This story has been a blessing to share. All of these women didn't take no for an answer, and it is my job to tell that story,” said Alyeska Krull, a senior bachelor's in fine arts acting major who will play the role of Catherine.

Check out USD Theatre on Facebook and Twitter for information about special discounts during the run of “These Shining Lives.”

“These Shining Lives” performs October 18 – 20 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on October 21 at 2 p.m. in the Arena Theatre on the USD Campus. Tickets ($15 Adults, $12 Senior Citizen [62+], $10 K-12 & non-USD students with ID and $5 USD students with ID) can be purchased in the afternoons (12 – 5 p.m.) starting October 11 at the USD Theatre Box Office or by calling (605) 658-3484; tickets can also be purchased now online.


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News