Gilmer High School the
Apr 07, 2014 | 237 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gilmer High School’s Theatre Department presented These Shining Lives on four nights, March 20, 22, 27, and 29 to local audiences after placing third in the UIL One-act Play Contest this year.

Brooke Davis in the part of Catherine Donohue was named to the All Star Cast while Iesha Fluellen in the part of Pearl was Honorable Mention All Star Cast.

Alex Hoffpauir earned a spot on the honor crew for her work with the lights.

Overall the play was the best production mounted by Gilmer in recent years with the story reflecting actual events in Oakwood, Illinois, in the 1920s and 1930s when women worked for the Radium Dial Company painting numbers on the dial.

Not only did workers hand paint the dials of watches with a radium compound which would glow in the dark, but they were encouraged to lick the brushes to make a better point for clear numbers. With time, even the workers themselves glowed—thus These Shining Lives.

That instruction to the new worker Catherine Donohue did not carry clearly to the back row on the final night. Otherwise, the company did a laudable job of conveying their story and keeping the audience’s attention.

As work progressed, the women complained of aching bones and joint. The company doctor they visited recommended aspirin.

As they improved, a friendly competition took place among the women as to who could paint more watches, with Pearl bragging she could do 150 an hour, while Catherine said she reached 200. That excellence came back to haunt her when she developed cancer of the jaw and leg and became the first of the workers to go to trail, trying to force the company to pay for her funeral.

In the actual case in Illinois, the woman Catherine represents died four days after the U.S. Supreme Court validated her claim.

The company remained in production until the 1970s when the site became one of the first superfund cleanup sites.

The production took full advantage of the work done by Ben Patrick, the high school instructor in debate and theatre. Rick Albritton invited Patrick to the January meeting of the Gilmer School Board so he could praise him for his work in constructing an eight foot extension to the existing stage over the summer. In addition, Patrick acquired $20,000 in stage lighting for the auditorium at Gilmer High School.

In the productions, two students were cast in many roles. On the final night of performances, March 29, Brooke Davis played the lead worker at the Radium Dial Company, with Ashton Ray as Frances, Taylor Brummell as Pearl, and Rebecca Hudson in the role of Charlotte.

Trey Treadway played Catherine’s husband, Tom, and D’keyvin Cook was the plant supervisor, Mr. Reed.

Andrew Rogers played Dr. Dalitsch, the man who told the women they were dying of radiation poisoning, while Sean Keegan as the company doctor recommended they take aspirin.

Courtney Gipson and Michael Murry were the reporters and Alex Hoffpauir the court recorder that Saturday night.

Matthew Washburn played Leonard Grossman, Michael Murry Dr. Rowntree, and Dimitri Fort the Judge.

On other occasions, Rebecca Martin, Iesha Fluellen, Tabitha Cantrell, William Harrison, and Sadie Hutchinson performed. Lights were handled by Christian Bebel, Taylor Brummell, and Alex Hoffpauir, and sound by either Brooke Davis or Abigail Engel.

Jessica Hoffpauir and Brett Davis assisted Mr. Patrick in directing the play.

The students dedicated the play to Desmond Pollard.
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