by Alana Silva and Lawrence Pei
Last Wednesday through last Saturday, the Drama Dept. performed its annual play “Radium Girls” in the L-Building. The play is a dramatic retelling of the young women who worked at the U.S. Radium Corp in the 1920-30s applying radioactive paint to the dials of clocks, instrument gauges and wristwatches for the United States Radium Company using the newly discovered element Radium. That is, until girls at the factory started dying of radiation poisoning and turned to the owners of the company to take responsibility for their illnesses and impending deaths.
According to Drama teacher and Play Director Anna Woods, she decided to produce this play because she thought it was a very important story to tell.
“It’s a bit of history that nobody knows about but I think the idea of corporate greed, and corruption and the lack of proper treatment of workers is something that happens all the time. The idea of the commercialization of science and of discovery and how people jump on fads and trends without knowing what they’re getting into is something that definitely happens today, so I feel the story is topical and relevant,” said Ms. Woods.
This year, the Fall Play casted 32 characters compared to the 22 characters from last year’s “I Don’t Have a Clue.”
“We have a lot of new actors, people who are taking the stage for the first time, so the show allows a lot of people to get stage experience. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on stage. and of course our juniors and seniors are getting some of the bigger parts because they have a little more experience,” explained Ms. Woods
For this year’s play, the Drama dept. decided to transition to a more dramatic play in “Radium Girls” than in previous years when the focused mostly on comedy
“We haven’t done a dramatic play in a while, it’s been a lot of comedy, so that is something new.” said Jack Wong, who played Dr. Knef who is a dentist attempting to blackmail the US Radium Corp. to give him money in return to disclose the results of the dying girls.
Because of this transition, it caused many actors to have to expand their skill set to better the production as a whole.
“I had to learn to speak slower and louder while acting on stage as well as in scenes where I’m angry at other characters,” said lead actor Mason Sandoval, who plays the President of the US Radium Corporation.
For some actors, the most rewarding aspect was to show the audience aspects of American history that many were previously oblivious about.
“By performing this play, I believe that I was able to tell the story about these women and the hardship they went through,” said lead actress Rachel Nguyen, who played Grace Flyer who is one of the sick workers working for the US Radium Corp who decides to sue them over her condition.
This year’s production was based on a true story, so many of the actors sought to familiarize themselves with the historical context and circumstances behind the play.
“Because of the background of this year’s play, I had to study the script a lot more, dig into the background of the time in which these events were occurring as well as to find similar characters to mine and to draw inspiration from them,” stated actor Andrew Wang, who played Jack Youngblood who is the reporter disclosing the story.
Viewing the play as a whole, Ms. Woods was very satisfied with this year’s group and how they did both in the amount of talent they had as well as the way they rehearsed.
“I think one of the strengths right now is that we have actors that are able to be emotional and able to be very deliberate in their acting and to be able to step into the lives of these historical characters.” stated Ms. Woods