DramaCentre’s “These Shining Lives” takes the Weisiger Theatre stage, Nov. 11-14
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Melanie Marnich’s historical drama These Shining Lives will begin its four-day premiere on the Weisiger Theatre stage in Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts. Based on a true story, the play chronicles the strength and determination of four women working for the U.S. Radium Dial Company as they paint luminous watch dials in the 1920s. When the four are diagnosed with radium poisoning, they must find the courage to stand up for themselves and for women who will follow them in the workforce—before it’s too late.
Professor of Dramatic Arts Tony Haigh, who directs the DramaCentre production, first saw These Shining Lives while on a trip to London, England. He says that what first drew him to Marnich’s play was its reminder that there is much we take for granted.
“We need to frequently recognize all the positives in our world and that many of them came about through the sacrifice of others,” Haigh explains. “Somewhere along the line, something terrible happened, and someone stood up against it in order to make a change happen.”
To that end, the placement of the play’s opening on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) is no accident.
“We remember that, in wartime, people have suffered and died for our freedoms,” Haigh says. “I’m making a connection in my mind between the things we’ve gained through the sacrifices of our service personnel, and the positives we’ve gained in peacetime through the sacrifices of ordinary people doing the right thing.”
In addition to its service-oriented themes, Haigh was also drawn to the play because it boasts four female leading roles.
“I’m always on the lookout for plays that feature strong women characters, because of the make-up of our department,” Haigh explains.
Tory Parker ’16, who plays Charlotte, says that the opportunities the play presented for the department’s female actors initially led her to audition.
“I appreciated that it was looking back in time, because we don’t often think about women’s places in history and how they’ve shaped the workforce in America,” she says. “As a person who loves to study gender and history, it was very important to me that this play was done and done well.”
The nine-member cast spent several weeks of rehearsals getting to know one another, as their relationships would lead to the success of this ensemble-centered show.
“Building an ensemble became an important thing to do, so that when we actually started on the text, we moved very quickly due to the great relationships and sympathy between all the actors,” Haigh says. “They immediately got along well and were creative with and challenged one another.”
That said, Haigh hopes that those in attendance will appreciate the “really first-rate” work of the student actors and designers.
“They’re a group of young people doing enormously good work,” he concludes. “Seeing committed actors working at this level is a really exciting thing. To be in the room with them—not just the actors, but also the designers and all of the students working on it—is an exciting thing.”
These Shining Lives runs Nov. 11-14 at 8 p.m. nightly in Weisiger Theatre.
Catherine – Taylee Wells ‘16
Charlotte – Tory Parker ‘16
Francis – Rachel Kent ‘18
Pearl – Katherine Moeykens ‘19
Tom – Brennen Amonett ‘19
Mr. Reed – Matthew Cleverly
Nurse & others – Olivia Renfro ’19
Dr. Dalitsch & others – Tyler Dawson-Arroyo ‘18
Mr. Grossman & others – Sean Fannin ‘17
Scenic Designer – Matthew Hallock
Technical Director & Lighting Designer – Sean Featherston
Master Electrician & Assistant Lighting Designer – Jonathan Hunt ‘18
Costume Designer – Beth Clark ’05
Costume Shop Manager – Kayla Higbee ’14
Props Designer – Chandler Garland ‘17
Sound Designer – Chris Lockhart ‘17
Production Designer – John Runyon-Hass
Stage Manager – Dennis Barrett ‘16
SLIDESHOW: These Shining Lives
by Hayley Hoffman ‘16
November 11, 2015