From left, Emalyn Remington, Audrey Bradbury, Tess Gioia and Simoane Lowell tell the courageous story of the Radium Girls. Courtesy of UMF

FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to present “These Shining Lives,” by Melanie Marnich as its fall theatrical production. This Theatre UMF production will be presented on Oct. 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. in Alumni Theater on the Farmington campus.

Directed by Jayne Decker, award-winning director and UMF faculty member, this drama tells the true story of the strength and determination of hundreds of young female factory workers in the 1920s and 30s who were callously exposed to radium poisoning in the workplace.

Their health and lives were devastated by the toxic deception as the women painted watch dials with a radium compound that exposed them to high amounts of radiation. Many contracted radiation poisoning and more than 50 perished, but theirs is a story of courage and tenacity as they sought to hold their employer accountable.

“This is an important story of ordinary girls whose heroic efforts a hundred years ago have made working conditions safer for so many,” said Decker. “An essential part of telling their story is having the set, lighting and costume design that create a visual picture of the time and place and helps the audience experience these women’s valiant struggle.”

A multi-level performance space created from actual factory photos takes the audience back in time, as well as period costumes created by Emalyn Remington, UMF senior and performing arts major from Bennington, Ver., and costume designer for the production.

“My first focus is to understand the time period and who the characters were as people,” said Remington. “That makes them come alive for me and helps me visualize who they were in their daily lives and what they might have worn. Working with this UMF production as a student is a remarkable experience and one that really confirms my career path for me.”

Decker has directed numerous productions at UMF Alumni Theater. Her production, “Coyote on a Fence,” was awarded a Moss Hart Memorial Award by the New England Theatre Conference, New England’s oldest and largest regional theater association.

She has also presented workshop productions of her original plays “Good Medicine;” “Stars Falling,” winner of the 2002 Maine Playwriting Award; “Jelly Moonshine;” and “Songbird,” a touring play about the Iraq War. “Cracked Shells,” an original play by Decker about domestic violence, was commissioned by Franklin County Network’s Peace in Our Families and was featured again at the 2009 Maine Women’s Studies Conference.

The show runs approximately an hour and 20 minutes and for Covid protocol, the audience will need to wear masks. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students 18 and under, and $5 for UMF students with ID. Tickets and sign in are available at the door prior to performance. Masks are required.

This production includes music from the period with solo and ensemble singing.  

Directed by Jayne Decker

Scenic and Lighting Design – Stan Spilecki

Sound Design – Joel Johnson

Costume Designer – Emalyn Remington, Bennington, Ver.

Stage Manager – Catie Meehan, Sweden

CAST:

Catherine Donahue – Audrey Bradbury

Charlotte Purcell – Emalyn Remington

Frances O’Connell – Tess Gioia, Farmingdale

Pearl Payne – Simoane Lowell

Tom Donahue – Eli Mowry, Kennebunk

Mr. Reed – Joseph Campbell, Farmington

Radio Announcer/Soloist/Leonard Grossman – Justin Reid, Portland

Company Doctor/Doctor Dalitsch – Aidan Mulrooney, Farmington

Dr. Rowntree/Reporter – Ian Stanford, Philips

Reporter – Samantha Box, Portland