These Shining Lives

January 27, 2017

BRADLEY UNIVERSITY THEATRE PRESENTS THESE SHINING LIVES

 

Evocative play celebrates friendship and struggle among

the “Radium Girls” of Ottawa, Illinois

Bradley University Theatre continues its 2016-2017 season with Melanie Marnich’s inspiring drama of young working women in 1920s Illinois, THESE SHINING LIVES. Performances are February 23 through March 5, 2017 at the Hartmann Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets and information are available at the BU Cultural Events Box Office, 309-677-2650.

Starting in the early 1920s, in the commercial boom following World War I, hundreds of young Illinois women enjoyed well-paying jobs at Ottawa’s Radium Dial Company, where they decorated watch and clock faces with luminescent radium paint. Taught to lick their paintbrushes to sharpen the points before dipping them into the paint, the women ingested massive quantities of radium, whose toxicity their employers denied and even covered up. In the radium craze of the time, the radioactive element was heralded and promoted for its alleged health benefits and used as an ingredient in popular tonics, makeups, and toothpastes.

Based on the historical record-- which still remains a living, family memory for some senior residents of the Ottawa area even today, THESE SHINING LIVES depicts the enthusiasm and spirit with which these women initially went to work; the friendships, independence, and empowerment they garnered; and the important contributions they made to their families’ betterment. This fable-like story of the American-Dream then turns to the mysterious illnesses that began to plague the Radium Dial workers, their catastrophic outcomes, and the landmark legal case that, after years of corporate obstruction, lengthy appeals, and terrible suffering, paved the way for the passage of occupational disease labor laws.

Focusing on Catherine Donohue, who reluctantly became the face of the workers' celebrated case, THESE SHINING LIVES offers an intimate, often funny, and always compelling, look at some brave American women who bonded, grew, enriched their families and communities through meaningful work, and united in the face of adversity to make courageous choices for the greater good.

Staging the production and making her BU mainstage directorial debut is longtime adjunct professor Sarah Salazar (BU 2008). She leads a cast of 13 that includes students ranging from freshmen to seniors. Scenery and lighting are by Professor Chad Lowell, with media designed by junior Kevin Mikolajczak, sound by senior Morgan Brennan, and animation by sophomore Samantha Conklin. The stage manager is sophomore Katlyn Wilson.

Playwright Melanie Marnich

Melanie Marnich is an American playwright and television writer. Her plays have been produced or developed at New York’s Public Theater, London’s Royal Court Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, Portland Center Stage, The Actors Studio, Geva Theatre, Hyde Park Theatre, American Theater Company, HERE and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She has received commissions from the Kennedy Center, Guthrie Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage and South Coast Repertory.

Ms. Marnich's plays include Quake, Blur (awarded the Francesca Primus Prize), Tallgrass Gothic, Calling All, Beautiful Again, These Shining Lives, and The Storm Coming. Quake and Tallgrass Gothic premiered at the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays. A Sleeping Country, which premiered at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park was awarded the Mickey Kaplan New American Play Prize. She also received the Carbonell Award for Best New Work of the Year play in 2007 for her play, Cradle of Man.

Marnich's adaptation of Katie Couric’s book, The Brand New Kid, premiered at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in November 2006. Her awards include, two McKnight Advancement Grants and two Jerome Fellowships from The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, the Samuel Goldwyn Award, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award and the Melvoin Award from Northlight Theatre (Chicago).

Marnich joined the crew of HBO drama Big Love as a staff writer for the third season in 2009. She was nominated for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for episodic drama at the February 2010 ceremony for the episode.[1] She was promoted to story editor for the fourth season in 2010 and wrote the episode "The Mighty and Strong". She wrote for three seasons of "The Big C" for Showtime; for the AMC drama, "Low Winter Sun;" served as a co-executive producer and writer for "The Affair" on Showtime, for which she has received a Golden Globe Award, and currently serveds as co-executive producer for the Netflix series, The OA. Ms. Marnich serves on the board of trustees for Humanitas.

Collaborative Project with Bradley's Pre-Law Center and the Department of Theatre Arts

Bradley University’s Department of Theatre Arts and the Bradley Pre-Law Center presented a collaborative moot court exercise after the show on Sunday, February 26.

Four Bradley Pre-Law students, Anna Huffman, Rachel Ehlermann, Lyndsey Fuller, and Mackenzie Payne, presented arguments about the legal case of Catherine Donohue, the protagonist of These Shining Lives.

“This is the epitome of the quest for the legal studies program to give preparation for law school and the legal profession,” says Retired Judge Jerelyn Maher, Director of the Pre-Law Center. “I can’t think of anything that would be more helpful to a student in making a decision about law and in pursuing law than this opportunity.”

Working in teams of two, these Bradley students wrote and presented briefs regarding the admissibility of a doctor’s testimony regarding the causation of Catherine Donohue’s cancer and the financial settlement to her.

THESE SHINING LIVES

Cast

Catherine Donohue….....…………..………………….... Katey Kraemer

Charlotte.……................……………….….…….…........Amanda Dacks

Frances……………………………….….…………....……Sophia Fishkin

Pearl………………………..……….……………...….. Samantha Zucker

Tom Donohue.....................................................................Trevor Baty

Mr. Reed.......................................................................Derek Baunach

Attorney Grossman............................................................Tyler Pesko

Ensemble..........................................................................Abigail Ticho

Ensemble........………..................................…..……..Haley Rapisarda

Ensemble.....…..…...………...................................................Africa Hill

Ensemble.……….……………………..………....….……... Kiana Baylor

Ensemble………….………………………….....….…Stephanie Begalke

Ensemble………...…..……………………..…….…Mackenzie Newman

 

THESE SHINING LIVES, by Melanie Marnich

Presented by Bradley University Theatre

February 26 – March 5, 2017

Thurs-Sat, 8PM

Sundays at 2:30 PM

The Hartmann Center for the Performing Arts

1423 St James

Peoria, IL 61625

Tickets and Information: 309-677-2650

www.bradley.edu/theatre