These Shining Lives
Directed by Emily A. Rollie
Sound Design|Composition by Chris Carignan
Our version of this play was a creative retelling of a tragic event that occurred in Ottawa, IL. in the 1920’s and 30’s. Exploring the themes of Innocence, Truth, Greed, and most importantly Time. Sound played an important role in helping our audience experience what it feels like to be a test, an experiment, to be someone who gets sick working for a company who lies to their employees and allows unsafe working conditions.
It’s the roaring twenties and the girls are working at the Radium Dial Company which uses radio-luminescent paint for the faces of their clocks and watches. Back then, Radium was considered to be “medicinal.” So, girls, don’t you worry as you lip, dip, and paint in order to work faster and produce more watches per day for the Radium Dial Company. Radium was used in all sorts of products including toothpaste, beauty products, food, and even water. Throughout our play, we introduced these products in the form of radio commercials.
Clocks ticking reveal the passing of time and the truth is exposed by Catherine as she tells her husband Tom that the glow on her skin feels like it’s in her body now. Something is wrong! Tom thinks the job is getting too hard for her. He says…” Maybe you’re just tired like any working stiff.”
Back at the Radium Dial Company the girls reveal each other’s aches and pains, but they are scared of losing their jobs if they speak up. They’ve all seen the company doctor and he says nothing is wrong, he blames it on arthritis prescribing them all aspirin. Time continues and the girls get sicker and their aches worsen. They’re all glowing.
The girls decide to fight back. Catherine becomes their spokesperson and they take the company to court. After seven long years she finally wins her case. On July 6, 1938 Catherine is awarded $5,661. She dies 21 days later.