Actor Shanga Parker to direct Theatre SC’s ‘Radium Girls’
Theatre SC at the University of South Carolina welcomes Shanga Parker to direct D.W. Gregory’s “Radium Girls.” The play, based on the 1920s court case that laid the groundwork for the rights of modern-day workers, will be performed Nov. 13-22 at Longstreet Theatre.
Show times are 8 p.m. Nov. 13, 18, 19 and 20; 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Nov. 14 with the late show a half-price special; 7 p.m. Nov. 21; and 3 p.m. Nov. 22. Tickets are $16 for the public; $14 for military, faculty and staff; and $10 for students. The Longstreet box office opens Nov. 6 at 12:30 p.m. The number is 803-777-2551.
“Radium Girls” is a harrowing true story that tells the simple but profound struggle of Grace Fryer, a factory worker who discovers that her employer, the U.S. Radium Corporation, is knowingly poisoning her and her coworkers. They contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials with glow-in-the-dark paint. The women, who had been told the paint was harmless, ingested deadly amounts of radium by licking their paintbrushes to sharpen them; some also painted their fingernails with it. Five of the women challenged the company in a court case that established the right of individual workers who contract occupational diseases to sue their employers.
“The last time I directed this play, in 2002, it was not long after the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001,” said Parker. “In some ways, the play was a welcomed distraction from the then-current uncertainties and newly begun war. For two hours, the audience lost themselves in the tale of the girls afflicted with radium poisoning at the hands of their employers. However, in 2009, the play has an entirely different resonance. Today, what comes to the fore are the challenges in the play of the girls receiving adequate and sufficient healthcare for an illness suffered on the job. We learn through the tale of Grace Fryer of the corporate struggle between compassion for workers and the financial bottom line. This is not news to us today. Let’s hope, if and when we’re faced with this situation, we have Grace’s determination and fearlessness.”
Actors in this production have the special challenge of portraying an incredibly broad range of characters. Ten actors will take on 37 different characters. Only graduate students Katie Kreuger, who plays Grace, and Daniel Hill, who plays her boss, Mr. Roeder, have single roles to tackle.
For more information on “Radium Girls” or any other Theatre SC productions, contact Kevin Bush at 803-777-9353 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.