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.