Orange Coast College's theatre department is staging a production of "Radium Girls" on the weekends of March 15–17 and March 22–24 in the College's Drama Lab Theatre. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee scheduled for Sunday, March 24.
Radium Girls tells the story of how young women in the early 20th Century suffered radiation poisoning after working in factories that used radium to paint popular luminous watches. After years of denials and cover-ups from the companies who owned the factories, an ensuing lawsuit changed worker conditions in the U.S. and led to the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
"This is a compelling moment in history where female workers were able to sue and hold accountable a large corporation for work-related injuries that they had suffered," explains Director Naomi Buckley. "It paved the way for many more class action lawsuits that would allow for greater workplace accountability and worker safety. There are themes of class inequality, gender equality in the workplace, and big ethical issues that the show raises."
OCC's Social Justice Series was launched in 2016 in an effort to raise public awareness, educate and engage audiences on issues related to societal injustice and human rights. Past productions have delved into topics like immigration rights and social equity. Student actors are challenged to perform scenes that are often emotionally complex.
"I hope that what the audience takes away from 'Radium Girls' is the courage that it took for these girls to come forward and persist in spite of being severely ill and disabled by the end," explains Buckley. "Their story is one of the real bravery that so many men and women show that then paves the way for others. It's a story of heroism really."
Tickets for "Radium Girls" can be purchased at www.occtickets.com for $10 in advance, or $15 at the door.