Standing up for what’s right, even in the face of adversity, is a fundamental moral fiber that we all admire. Sure, I’m taking some generalized liberties with my opening remark, but alas if you don’t concur, then move along. Or perhaps, PLEASE keep reading, it’s minds like yours that make “These Shining Lives” the moving and powerful drama it is.
Written by Merlaine Marnich, “These Shining Lives” dramatizes the true story of Catherine Donohue, a woman whose job was to paint watch faces with a radium compound in the 1920s at The Radium Watch Factory in Illinois. The play follows Donohue and three other women as they celebrate success and the freedom to work, succumb to the deadly affects of the radium as they stand against a Goliath of a company who ultimately valued their life but little. Catherine Donohue’s case was a landmark and went to the Supreme Court. It’s more than a “women’s fight against an injustice” story – it’s a Labor Movement story. It’s a workers’ safety story. It’s a true story. And it’s a story from our not-so-distant-past and one that many still fight today.
“the Radium Girls,” as they became known, ushered in a new wave of worker protections led by Labor Secretary Frances Perkins — the first woman to hold a presidential cabinet position. “She and others built on what the radium girls achieved,” Moore said. “And eventually it led to the establishment of OSHA which now works nationally to reduce deaths from work-related illness and injury.”
The Bath House Players, a volunteer acting company comprised of high school students, presents “These Shining Lives” at Helen Hocker Theater in Gage Park.
After opening weekend, the reviews from the small crowd came pouring in: