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GNS Presents: Radium Girls

GNSGNS photo
For 40 years, radium was used to paint watch dials to keep with the growing trend of having luminescent numbers on the watch faces. This paint is considered a radioactive hazard, as radium emits gamma rays that have the potential to penetrate glass to enter human tissue. Radium poses a major health hazard and it is hard to imagine the dangers if radium was ingested.

From the 1920s to 30s, the health effects of radium began to be explored. The famous case of the Radium Girls, centered on a group of women who worked in factories in the United States from 1917 and 1920s. These women had to paint watch faces with the paint, and after every number on the face was done, the workers were ordered to sharpen the brushes and create a fine tip with their lips. Overtime, by licking the brushes, the women ingested fatal amounts of radium, resulting in the women suffering from the effects of radium poisoning. In a few years, the ingested radium, began to slowly eat away at their bones resulting in necrosis and bone cancers.

At first, the risks associated with this job were not very well-known. Working with the most expensive material at the time, equivalent to a current value of $2.2 million dollars for every gram, the women saw no downside, and encouraged others to join them.

Next week, a talented entourage of GNS actors will bring to life the story of the Radium Girls who were, as lead actor Calla Roberts ’22 quotes, “wronged by the radium corporation.” The trailer provides an enticing look at the upcoming production: Radium Girls Trailer.

When asked why people should see Radium Girls, Lead actor Calla Roberts ’22 replied, “There are funny jokes told, some powerful dramatic scenes for those who love drama, and there are also some sad scenes for those who enjoy a good cry. But most importantly everyone has poured their heart and soul into this play which is magical. This play is one that pulls on the heartstrings and wins over the audience. For those who love history, it is also a true story and many of the characters you see in the play were real people. I think this is a show for everyone and I think everyone will absolutely love it!”

Live performances will be held on November 24, 25, and 26 at 7 p.m. and November 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets for the performances must be purchased in advance with $15 for adults and $10 for students/seniors. A live streamed performance will be available on November 26 at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $15 each. All tickets can be purchased through the school website.