By Sharon Aron Baron
J.P. Taravella tackles a new challenge this year, diving into a cross-curricular educational process while presenting a play based on actual events.
In the 1920s, the U.S. Radium Corporation’s luminescent paint, marketed as Undark, was a mixture of radium and zinc sulfide; the radiation caused the sulfide to fluoresce.
During World War I, demand for dials, watches, and aircraft instruments painted with Undark surged, and the company expanded operations considerably.
However, underneath the gilded façade, a mysterious sickness lay in wait.
The delicate task of painting watch and gauge faces were primarily done by young women, who were instructed to maintain a fine tip on their paintbrushes by licking them.
Women working as dial painters in the radium plants suffered from a condition called radium jaw — or necrosis, painful swelling, and porosity of the upper and lower jaws that ultimately led to many of their deaths. This sparked a series of behind-the-curtain dealings to keep the families of those afflicted silent.
But, after losing a close friend and co-worker at the plant, one woman decided to stand up. The play follows Grace’s journey as she fights for her day in court and its consequences on her relationships.
“This show is a great opportunity for students to learn more about an important court case in workplace liability while honing their acting and design skills,” said director Lori Sessions.
Written by D.W. Gregory, Radium Girls is based on a true story, shares a powerful message of equality and justice, and magnifies the American tradition of the commercialization of science.
Tatyana Ramlogan, who plays Grace, said, “I think for me the biggest challenge of this show has been trying to convey the development of Grace both physically and mentally. To become physically weaker yet stronger mentally is not an easy task, but I’m going to put my best foot forward to make it happen.”
Ryan Fier, who plays Arthur Roeder, said he is looking forward to expanding his range of the characters he’s played in the past into this complex and multifaceted character.
J.P. Taravella will present Radium Girls on October 6 and 8 at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets are $12.00 for adults and $8.00 for students and are available at Radium Girls.
- Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.
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