The USD theater department took on Melanie Marnchih’s play, “These Shining Lives” which focused on women’s and workers rights.
The cast and crew reflected on their time on-set and what the challenges and good opportunities were about the production.
Raimondo Genna, chair of the theater department and director of “These Shining Lives” said the production is a look into the life of four women.
“(The production) covers these four women who worked for the Radium Dial company, a company back in the 1920s and ’30s that made watches using radium in their paint for their dials,” Genna said. “…and over time they started getting radiation poisoning from the radium and when they confronted their business about it they were fired.”
Genna said the production covers women’s rights and workers rights.
“The play shifts to taking the company to court and over a period of 10 years they finally win their case and because of that a whole bunch of safety regulations came into being in Illinois which then spread out to the whole United States,” he said.
Genna said the stage setup was different from this production and offers the audience a different experience.
“The audience sits around the stage so it’s a very intimate production and it’s a different style of performing that many of our actors are not used to,” Genna said. “They’ve had to make some very wonderful adjustments, they’ve done a great job doing so.”
The production also wanted to showcase the female students involved, Genna said.
“It was a nice, strong, intimate play that really focused on the relationships in terms of what the actors are doing. But it was also stylistically unique in its empathetic structure,” Genna said. “It was also a play that had four great female leads in it so that was something that we wanted to address.”
Alexis Gowans, junior theater studies major and stage manager of the production said she cares about feminism and liked seeing how the actors handled the production.
“I think this is really the first show that is about feminism that I’ve been involved in, everything else has been about different social issues and this is the first one that is actually about feminism,” Gowans said. “(It) is something that I’m very passionate about so it was interesting to be able to work on that and see what the paperwork is like and how the actors can really get into their character and the content of the show.”
Chloe Sand, freshman musical theater major who played the role of Charlotte said she was excited to be a part of the show.
“It feels incredible. This show is empowering and tragically beautiful,” Sand said. “I am so thrilled to be apart of this show, and being able to tell a story that needs to be told.”
Sand said that she enjoyed playing her role as Charlotte.
“Playing the role of Charlotte has been extremely fun. Charlotte is independent, sassy, and most importantly values herself as an incredible woman who needs no man,” Sand said. “I think our generation of young girls can learn a lot from Charlotte- it is okay to be outspoken. It is okay to not need a man. It is okay to be a woman- a powerful woman.”
Having a small cast, Sand said she liked watching her and peers and herself learn.
“Since this production is a cast of six, we all have become very close. From the beginning of rehearsals to the end, it has been a joy to watch all of us grow,” she said. “The passion that we all have for this art form could not be more clear. I have enjoyed every step of this process, and I can’t wait for us to share this story.”