Show time! A review of the Performing Arts Club’s Radium Girls

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“All the world’s a stage”—in the world of Washington High School, the stage that we spotlight this week is that of the Husky Theatre, as the Performing Arts Club (PAC) presents their fall play Radium Girls. Radium Girls is based on the true story of women hired to paint radium watch dials in the early 1900s. The women became severely ill from radium exposure, and the play follows their efforts in rising up against the injustices that they faced.

On the topic of effort, the PAC has also put quite the effort into bringing this play to life. According to Hailey Vittoria—a junior who plays the role of Kathryn—the actors have been rehearsing for about two and a half months. The process of preparing for the play, she explains, began first with practicing lines, and then moving on to blocking, which is essentially “adding movement and physicality to the scenes. Once we have all of that movement and physicality down, we’re able to focus a lot more on the acting.” 

After the actors have had time to work on physicality, memorization, and rehearsing, there is then a week that is referred to as “tech week.” Karina Sapkota, a senior and the secretary of PAC, explains that “before tech week, it’s usually only the actors, directors, and the stage managers who are at rehearsals. Tech week is when all the techs get brought in, which are the deck crew, lights, sound, spots,” and more. Sapkota believes tech week to be the point when rehearsals become more intense, as they begin to run after school until 9 o’clock. “We’re doing runs after runs after runs, and dress rehearsals,” she says, “and everyone needs to be there. It’s really chaotic but it’s also really fun.”

The club’s efforts have certainly paid off—the production, running for a duration of two hours, is seamlessly put together with creative coordination of acting and tech. The interactions between the actors onstage are real and raw, and each scene is smoothly transitioned with music to set the tone of the next while the deck crew quickly rearranges props. The entire scene is fittingly set with a large clock that overlooks the stage, glowing with green radium dials; it serves as an ever-present reminder to the audience of the limited time that the girls have left to live after painting the same radium dials, and the failure of the company to inform them of the risks. But although the play handles heavy topics, there is also a fair balance in tone as there is warmth and themes of persistence throughout.

Overall, the play illustrates the importance of fighting for justice. Vittoria hopes viewers will find that even though Radium Girls takes place in the past, the themes of inequality, namely for minorities and on the basis of gender, “are still very present. There’s still so many inequalities in the world and so many points where the minorities are getting shut down, and I think it’s very important for people to recognize [not only] how wrong that was in the past, but also how wrong that still is and how it’s still happening.” 

The play will run until December 17th; Sapkota adds that all are welcome to attend PAC meetings every Wednesday, and to look out for the musical Chicago in the spring.

Aaushi Singh is a senior at Washington High School. She was born in New York in the borough of Queens, but moved to Fremont early in life and has lived there ever since. This will be her first year at the Hatchet, where she hopes to cover topics such as art, mental health, and music. Aaushi’s hobbies consist of reading, making art, and writing. Although unsure of her future plans, Aaushi is considering studying architecture or civil engineering.

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