‘Radium Girls’ a historic play


Madison Moon

Cast members rehearse a scene from the play.

Madison Moon

The 2022 Fall Production of Metea High School’s Theater Department is Radium Girls. The play is based on the true story of female factory workers who contracted radium poisoning starting in 1917 until the mid-1920s. The play is this Friday and  Saturday at 7 p.m, and Sunday at 2 p.m for the understudy show. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults and can be purchased online

This play itself is a drama as well as having an educational aspect.“It is something we have never done here in the theater, the last time we did a drama was maybe six years ago,” program Director Matt Wolski said.

Something new that theater is doing is an understudy performance on Sunday at 2 p.m. 

“Our understudy performance, which is a brand new thing we are implementing and moving forward this year and fourth within the program. It gives more kids an opportunity to perform,” Wolski said. 

The historic aspect of this play is about female factory workers who were hired to paint watch dials with self-luminous paint.  Many of the workers ingested fatal amounts of radium as they were taught to give their paint brushes a fine tip. This procedure resulted in the ingestion of radium with each dip. Some of the female factory workers even painted their nails, faces, and teeth with the glowing paint for fun as they were assured that the paint was harmless. 

 “I think it is a great representation of what happened. I do not think we addressed this time period enough, it is such a great story to take the perspective from the woman that was there, and especially towards the end fighting a legal case,” senior Gabrielle Gudgeon said. 

The paint composed of powered radium and water proved to be deadly. As a result of so many deaths and horrific illnesses at the three factories, lawsuits were filed by the female factory workers and their families. In Orange, New Jersey, the case was settled out of court. In Ottawa, Illinois, the workers received winning damages from the Radium Dial Company in 1938.

 “It is a struggle between the fight against time, money versus time, you can always spend more money but you can never make more time. It is going to make you laugh. It is going to make you love. It’s going to make you cry,” Wolski said. 

Some of the cast members reflected on their experience and what it meant to be a part of the show. 

 “I did tech for the past three years and it is a different experience being a part of the cast. I have always seen it from the side or from the life box or booth up in the catwalks. It is a much different experience being onstage and talking to all the people that I have previously watched,” senior Josh Malartski said.