Lethal Theatrics

Raiders discuss Radium Girls production


Photo by: Kylie Dougherty

A final tug on his silky white suit prepares sophomore Jayce Russell for his entrance.

He positions himself onto the edge of the step so he doesn’t come in late.

The entire auditorium is an inky black as he quietly crosses over the timeworn wooden stage to take his place, all but blindly.

He can’t see them, but he couldn’t be more aware of their eager presence. He can hear their shallow excited breaths; feel their expectant electricity whispering in the languid air around him.

He knows that he can’t cure the restless anxiety gripping at his gut, but the repetition of his first line offers a subtle dose of assurance. He knows that if he can deliver his first line, the rest will flow naturally.

With a sharp crack, the outdated industrial lighting system jolts awake, illuminating a world that is no longer S. H. Rider High School . . .

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” And Rider’s theatre program is centered on that philosophy.

A philosophy they brought to Radium Girls, written by D. W. Gregory, which follows the legal and emotional turmoil Grace Fryer faces as a young worker in a radium company after becoming afflicted with radium poisoning.

Months before opening night, actors are expected to come to rehearsal with their own character development prepared.

“We don’t really learn about it all together, [Mr. Jefferson] kind of expects us to look up the background stuff ourselves,” Junior Hannah Deerinwater, who plays Grace’s mother in the play, said.

She said they look into the background so that they can render the characters justice.

The play is based off a true story so the actors had to hold a deeper respect for the story said senior Madeleine Swanson, the main actress in Radium Girls as Grace Fryer.

“Since [this play] is the first time I’ve played someone that’s lived, [I] really respect it more, it’s not just fun anymore, it’s serious, you have to have a certain kind of respect for this because it really truly happened and all these characters really lived,” Swanson said.

The characters in the play posed an interesting challenge for the actors. Senior Brady Dylla had the task of playing not only Dr. Bailey and Dr. Knef, but also the Lovesick Cowboy, the Judge, and a couple of other minor parts.

Dylla said that getting into each unique character was simple. All he had to do was “to practice the little voices in [his] head” before going out, but the costume conundrum was a completely different matter.

“It was kind of hard at times because sometimes we didn’t have a lot of time, so it was going in, putting on one costume and rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, get your stuff, get your stuff and get to the next scene,” Dylla said.

A significant difference in age challenged Senior Christian Thomason who played Mr. Roeder.

“This was the hardest role I’ve done because I really don’t think I’m like Roeder at all, he’s an older guy.”

Thomason said he not only had to change his voice inflection, but also the way he moved and even the way he thought so that he could fully encompass the character.

Hannah Deerinwater was grateful for the opportunity to work with one of her closest friends, Madeleine Swanson.

“This was the first play we’ve done together, so it was good to finally get to do that before she graduates,” Deerinwater said.

Swanson believes the production over all teaches people to not be naïve and to stand up for what they believe in.

“I love this play so much because it’s people standing up and saying that they’re important and mean something even though they were fifteen-year-old poor girls working in factories,” Swanson said. “They still deserved to be treated like they mattered and they deserved to have a voice.”