“Radium Girls”: Rehearsals begin for Tri-School fall play


On August 28, rehearsals began for the Trischool Productions fall play, “Radium Girls.”

In the front row of the theater, sitting attentively in a faded orange chair is NDB senior Jillian Antunez, the play’s stage manager.

She holds an already battered composition book on her lap and has a pencil at the ready. She has to be ready at a moment’s notice to carry out the tasks declared by the director, such as taking blocking notes, writing down necessary props, and occasionally reminding the excitedly distracted actors to focus.

“Rehearsals can be very stressful, but I am excited to display my abilities as a stage manager,” says Jilly.

On stage are NDB seniors Keira Cruickshank, Gabriela Fanucchi, and Grace Tillman, junior Hillary Tighe, and freshmen Annaliese Shelton and Maggie Stack. They are busy writing down the instructions the director is giving them on where to move, how to speak, and how to capture the mood of each scene.

At the beginning of each rehearsal, the actors all file in to the theater, chatting noisily all the while. When the director is ready to begin rehearsal, the company takes a few minutes to discuss the importance of each scene they are going to be running that day.

Then the actors are up on their feet, receiving their blocking or movements, and then running through the entire scene multiple times. While they have a few chairs and tables already, the actors must pantomime the props that they will be using in the show.

The stage crew has been working diligently on the expansive set on Sundays, so the actors are already able to get a feel for what the stage is going to look like. Multiple levels of versatile scenery, the set is impressive in its construction, and there is still more work to do. There are only a few more weeks before opening night.

Beginning at the closing of World War 1 and ending in the 1940s, the play documents the true story of factory women in Orange, New Jersey who painted glow in the dark clock faces on watches to aid the war effort. The paint that they used had a special ingredient that made it glow: radium, which was not yet known to be incredibly toxic. One by one, the girls mysteriously begin to get sick, the illness causing decaying gums and crippling joint pain unlike anything anyone has ever seen before.

The radium company denies any possible correlation between radium and the sickness, as radium was then thought to be a miracle cure for many diseases. For years, the girls are entrenched in a contentious legal battle with their former employers, each growing sicker and sicker by the week. What follows is a harrowing tale of tragedy, love, and fortitude.

The show will be playing at Junipero Serra High School on October 20, 21, 27, and 28 at 7:30pm. Go to www.TriSchoolProductions.com for more information.