Inspired by the real-life story of the luminous watch dial painters of the 1920s, Radium Girls marks the journey of three women’s struggle with radium poisoning and their fight for justice from the U.S. Radium Corporation.
The Fort Scott High School Thespians perform the play, written by D.W. Gregory, at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27, 28, and 29 at the FSHS Auditorium, 1005 S. Main, in Fort Scott.
Although Radium Girls is historical fiction, most of the characters were real people in history. Others are a conglomeration of various people involved in the plight of the Radium Girls.
“Students have invested a lot of time and research into their characters for this performance,” said FSHS Thespian Director Angie Bin. “They have studied their real-life counterparts and noted character traits and personalities that make their character historically accurate.”
The production, set in the 1920s, relays how radium, then known as a miracle cure and beauty product, was used to create a glow in the dark paint that illuminated watches and clocks especially during WWI. The young women employed to paint the tiny numerals were instructed to point their brushes using their mouths. Years later, most of the women began developing horrific health issues which were dismissed by their employers. Eventually, several women were able to find legal defense and had their voices heard, and radium poisoning proven. Their bravery eventually led to landmark changes in working conditions for employees.
“Called a ‘powerful’ and ‘engrossing’ drama by critics, Radium Girls offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialization of science,” according to Dramatic Publishing.
The production involves a 12-member ensemble of students who all play up to four characters each. Actors include seniors Levi Bin, Madi Toth, Carlee Studyvin, Dominic Cannon, Jo Goodbody and Wendy Monahan; juniors Ashanti Green, Tailynn Harding, and Sage Hill; sophomore Jacob Ham; and freshmen Bareigh Farrell and Israel Carreno.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children and available at the Fort Scott High School office and at Common Ground Coffee, 116 S. Main. Doors open 30 minutes prior to show time. The lobby will have on display a number of educational projects created by students at FSHS.
“Students in Drama classes have created the design details for the show that will be on display for the public. I am so proud of the model sets they have built with set design suggestions, make-up and costuming sketches and research, and the sound and lighting design suggestions they have presented,” said Bin. “Additionally, we have several graphic design posters that our students in Dr. Michelle Laubenstein’s classes created, including the winning design created by junior Amber Russo.”
Upon conclusion of Radium Girls, the FSHS Thespians will celebrate March as Theatre in Our Schools Month and host the all-school Talent Show and Miss(ter) FSHS Pageant at 7 p.m. on March 27 in the Auditorium. Other upcoming events include the annual Thespian Rummage Sale on April 10-11 and Tiger Drama Camp held May 18-29.