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Courage, love at heart of ‘These Shining Lives’

“This isn’t a fairy tale, though it starts like one. It’s not a tragedy, though it ends like one.”

That’s the opening line of the play “These Shining Lives” by Melanie Marnich that opens Wednesday at Price Theater. It will end its run Sunday.

Tracy Riggs, Iinstructor of Theatre Arts, directs the show. She said she was drawn to it. 

“I loved the idea of doing a show that is based on a true story,” Riggs said. “It’s very meaningful for our students to have an opportunity to bring to life characters based on real people.”

“These Shining Lives” explores the story of four women who were hired to paint numbers on watch faces by the Radium Dial Co. in Illinois during the 1920s. The paint they used contained radium.

“This was just before the Depression, and these women were so excited about getting good jobs,” Riggs said. 

The play is told from the point of view of Catherine Donohue, one of the workers at Radium Dial, and it chronicles the lives of these brave women who changed the course of women in the workplace.

“This play, although inspired by real people and actual events, is a work of creative nonfiction,” playwright Melanie Marnich said, in writing about her work. “It moves between fact and fiction, between reality and imagination, to create a theatrical world.” 

“To keep a sense of intimacy, the set and props are minimal,” Riggs said. “We have created a black box environment on the main stage.”

“The story stands by itself.”

Riggs said many of the themes found in the play range from science to religion to history.

“It’s a story that touches everyone,” Riggs said.

“These Shining Lives” runs just under 90 minutes and is performed without an intermission. The box office is open noon to 4 p.m. weekdays. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens (55 and older) and non-LC students and free for LC students faculty and staff. Email to make reservations at priceboxoffice@lagrange.edu, or call (706) 880-8080. If emailing or calling, please leave name, the performance date/time and number of tickets desired, type of tickets and a call-back number and email address for confirmation.