The Glow-in-the-Black Box
Hockaday and St. Mark’s students gear up for the fall play “Radium Girls”
Almost a century has passed since female workers in the United States Radium Corporation identified the radium paint they routinely handled as toxic and sued their employer. This November, the Hockaday and St. Mark’s drama program hopes to bring the radium case back to life.
From Nov. 2 to Nov. 4, theater students will perform D.W. Gregory’s drama “Radium Girls” in St. Mark’s Black Box. The show takes its audience back to a 20th century watch factory in Orange, N.J. During the two-hour performance, Hockaday junior Grace and seniors Jenny and Reagan will portray three female factory workers at the U.S. Radium Corporation working with the poisonous glow-in-the-dark paint.
With over 30 roles, “Radium Girls” presents several challenges to both the cast and crew, including frequent change of stage settings and a demanding script.
“It’s definitely an exciting adventure for the crew team,” said Marion Glorioso, a St. Mark’s Lower School drama teacher and director of the play. “With every scene, the setting changes, which requires a lot of cooperation between the actors and the crew.”
A historical drama that spans more than 20 years from start to finish, “Radium Girls” tests the actresses’ flexibilities as they age from 15-year-old girls to 30-something-year-old women striving for their deprived labor rights.
“The play is also going to challenge the actors in their interpretation of some really subtle performances,” Glorioso said. “For example, their showing of the progressive illness from the radiance exposure.”
“Educational” is the first word used by Glorioso to describe “Radium Girls,” but that is not all the audience should expect. They should also plan on cracking up with laughter and getting a healthy dose of romance.
“Even though it is a serious play, there are still very joyful, light-hearted and beautiful moments,” Glorioso said. “The play also includes some love scenes that follow a young girl’s relationship with her fiancée.”
Actors and the technology crew are pumped up and getting ready for the show. Grace will portray the main character Grace Fryer and lead the rest of the cast of 20 Hockaday and St. Mark’s Upper School students.
“The biggest challenge is how heavy the subject matter is—radium poisoning isn’t your average plot-line,” said Grace. “But the script is very emotional and well-written, and the cast is amazing.”
The cast is split up evenly between ten Hockaday actresses and ten St. Mark’s actors.
“It’s a pretty dramatic show,” Hockaday senior actress Reagan said. “I think the audience will be really fascinated.”