The VHS Drama Club will present the drama ‘These Shining Lives’ on stage at
Valley High School, November 2-4, 2023.
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
6:30 pm, VHS Chorus Room
About our play: Narrated by one of the workers, Catherine Donohue, These Shining Lives shows women getting a chance for a well-paying job in the 1920s and early 1930s, which was uncharacteristic for the time in the United States. The job, which seems easy enough to the four main characters, is painting the hour markings onto different-sized watch dials using a radium compound that glows in the dark. Radium Dial, the company that hires the women to do the painting, tells them that there is no evidence that radium is harmful, and even that it has health benefits. After a period of time, the workers notice that their hands start glowing in the dark, but assume that it is just from the radium powder that is used to paint the faces. The ladies then develop ailments, including jaw infections and bone pain. Several local doctors, including the company doctor, overlook the women’s concerns and prescribe aspirin, which does not help. Ultimately, they have to travel to the city (Chicago) to find a doctor willing to put his name on the line and diagnose the women with radium poisoning. This, in turn, helps the four main characters decide to file a lawsuit against Radium Dial. An attorney, Leonard J. Grossman, agrees to take the case for free, with Donohue as the lead plaintiff.
Catherine Donohue/Narrator – The main protagonist.
Charlotte Purcell – Straight-talking and tough. Although she is sharp when she first meets Catherine, they soon become good friends.
Frances O’Connell – Viewed as having the moral backbone of the four women.
Pearl Payne – Easy-going and chatty. Likens to Catherine straight away.
Tom Donohue – Catherine’s husband. Feels emasculated when Catherine first gets the job, but warms up quickly to it. Fiercely protective of his wife.
Mr Reed – Radium Dial Supervisor.
Dr Rowntree – Makes a brief appearance promoting the perceived value of ‘Radium.’
Dr Dalitsch – Doctor in Chicago who diagnoses radium poisoning.
Leonard Grossman – The attorney who agrees to take the case to court.