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'Radium Girls' brings labor rights to the Solomon Theater

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

The cast of "Radium Girls" act in a scene during the play's run in November. The play tells the real life story of women who were exposed to radiation poisoning in a factory in the early 20th century.

This November, the St. Martin's theater department will put on the play “Radium Girls” this November in the Solomon Theater on campus. The show is directed by Meredith Dieth, director of Performing Arts at St. Martin’s.

“Radium Girls'' is a “true story about these girls who worked in a factory in New Jersey,'' according to Dieth. The young 15-year-old girls, most of whom were immigrants, worked in a factory where they would paint luminous watches with radium paint. What the company and the young girls didn’t know was that the radium they were using was very poisonous and caused many permanent damages to the workers.

Dieth said that the story of the girls working in the factory “says a lot about companies and unions that protect workers, women, and women’s rights.”

“Each character has a different and interesting background and stands out in their own way,” Dieth noted.

According to Dieth, the theater department starts thinking about what plays to put on two years in advance and thinks about the actors in each particular senior class.

“I choose [the plays] a lot because of what seniors I might have that might showcase them,” Dieth said.

It’s a difficult decision on deciding what play to produce, but this year since the theater department has a lot of senior girls, Dieth chose to showcase a play with many female roles.

Last school year, the fall and spring plays had to be modified around COVID-19 restrictions. This year, these restrictions have gotten much looser. Unlike last year, there will be a live production. While on stage and being backstage, the actors will be wearing clear masks.

“It will not be online and we're not going to stream it, which is good,” Dieth commented.

On a regular day, play practice lasts for two hours after school on Mondays through Thursdays. During tech week, the practices usually go till 7:00 p.m., and during show week the actors may not get home until much later. Actors must find a way to manage practice hours with homework hours each night.

Kennedy Derosin, the lead actress in “Radium Girls”, says that in order to stay up to date with homework assignments, she usually has to stay up late.

“It's just what I have to do,” Derosin said.

The audition process can also be time consuming, according to Derosin.

“In an audition, you will usually see the script ahead of time and you prepare for it and do some character research,” Derosin explained. “You can prepare a certain monologue that you like or a scene.”

Dieth usually has actors read certain parts of the script and then casts them in the role that she thinks fits best. Derosin explained that being in her own space and really focusing on her role has helped the part of Grace Friar.

According to Derosin, the best part about doing theater at St. Martin’s is how fun and welcoming everyone is as a whole.

“It really helped me come out of my shell especially during freshman year,” Derosin said. “When I found that I was kind of losing myself, theater helped me find myself again.”

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