In fall of the 2021-2022 school year, the Punahou Theater Department is putting on the play Radium Girls. Mrs. Melinda Moore, the director, explained how she envisioned a spectacular show that’s relevant to students. With enough safety protocols in place, the show is designed perfectly for pandemic times.
Radium Girls, written by D.W. Gregory, is the story of three women who work in a radium plant during the early 1900s. Set in New Jersey, the audience will learn the story of these women, who were responsible for using radium to make watch faces glow in the dark. During these times, which was before scientists revealed the element was toxic, the public believed it could cure cancer. Radium was widely used since it made the perfect glowing accessory for clothing, makeup, and hair products. To make watch faces glow in the dark, the women would dip their paint brushes in the radium. To get a more precise point on the brushes, they would lick them; doing this allowed the women to make more watches and get paid more money. The factories covered up the cause of death of these women, which prolonged the use of radium.
This play explores the history behind these women and the world at that time with an exciting storyline, costumes, and sets. With the flapper period and glowing decorations, this performance will be a stunning experience.
To make rehearsals, as well as performances, COVID safe for the cast, crew, and audience, Mrs. Moore has put together a detailed plan. First, the show is only one act, about 70 minutes, so rehearsals and performances will be quicker. Since the cast is under fifteen people, she has decided to have two groups of students perform the Radium Girls. More students will be able to participate without sacrificing safety. Also, having two people play the same role will allow students to learn from each other and compare and contrast their ideas for the character.
Mrs. Moore also made different plans for the production depending on what the COVID level is at that time. She anticipates having voluntary testing for rehearsals and performances. Her dream is to allow students to perform before a live audience without a mask on stage. While getting to this point will take a lot of coordination and planning, it may be possible to have students use masks behind the set and only remove them just before performing.
Backup plans have been put in place to make sure the show goes on. Smaller-sized audiences or recorded performances are the plans if more extreme restrictions are in place for the students. With COVID-19 vaccines administered to adults and some teens, October will have a higher percentage of students and families protected from the virus. Vaccines may help the Theater Department transition back to somewhat normal performances. Although there are still some kinks to work out, the technical crew is able to work behind the scenes, once again. The theater faculty and staff anticipate set building, assistant directing, and costume-making positions to be filled by students. Proper distancing, and face mask use, will continue to remain a priority to make the show as safe as possible.
Mrs. Moore wants to send a thank you to all of the students for patiently waiting for this opportunity to come back. Although it’s been a long time since there’s been a play at Punahou, she hopes that students will come back and make this show possible. With the dedication from teachers, staff, and kids, the show will go on!