If beauty, pain, the simple moments, courage, failure, and the imperfect memories that shine golden in life came alive, they would describe the play “These Shining Lives”. Performed in the Patsy Miller Studio Theatre (a black box theater), the play gained poignancy and strength from its audience being mere feet from the newfound hopes and excitement; tender, sunny, romantic scenes; and raw pain and fear in the face of impending loss that encompasses “These Shining Lives.”
Wrapping its audience into a world of mere humans trying to cope with something far bigger than they are, through their bodies we can crawl in and feel the same emotions. Through them we experience their devastation.
The play follows the story of Catherine Donohue who goes to work in the 1920’s for a culture shocking $8 a day. Shattering stereotypes as a working wife, through nine years of work she develops deep friendships with her coworkers as they paint the faces of pocket watches with pure radium. After Catherine and all of her friends inevitably get fatal radium poisoning, Catherine chooses to courageously sue her former company, eventually winning seven years later at the supreme court level. Though justice is served, nothing can undo her fatal condition and the havoc it wreaks on her body and the lives of those around her.
“These Shining Lives” is a poignant reminder that humanity is frail. A reminder that choices matter. A reminder that justice may eventually win but that victims still fall. It is raw. It is relatable. It is convicting. It’s a play that could easily have been lost in the weeds of preaching or social justice, yet somehow managed to just tell its story, and its story is enough.
When you go to “These Shining Lives” you walk away a bit more somber and a bit more cognizant that each hour matters. You walk away a bit more ready to live a life that shines, (from the inside out) for all the right reasons.