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Kelly Theatre Welcomes Playwright D.W. Gregory

WEST LIBERTY – West Liberty University will have a special guest on hand for its student production of the play “Radium Girls”on Friday — the playwright.

“We are thrilled that playwright D.W. Gregory is coming to campus and will do a little talk about the play after the show on Friday night in Kelly Theatre,” said Michael Aulick, WLU’s director of theater and one of two directors of the play.

The other director is Maura Reiff, a recent graduate of WLU’s theater program who resides in Weirton and works in Pittsburgh.

“While most people may not recognize the playwright’s name, she is a terribly famous playwright within the world of theater. This play has made the list of top 10 plays produced in the U.S. for the second year in a row so we are looking forward to our chance to produce the work,” Aulick said.

Based on a true story that happened during World War I, the drama is about female factory workers who suffered radiation poisoning due to the luminous paint they used on clock and watch dials.

“It’s a dramatic piece based on real life. Some women who worked at a factory got cancer because of the materials they were using, but the company never would admit or help them out with their medical bills. So the company was killing them, and they couldn’t get anybody to support them. We were doing research about it and we were finding old articles about these women, which was a really interesting process,” Aulick said.

Radium was discovered by Nobel laureate Marie Curie and her husband Pierre in 1898. In 1926, it was a considered a miracle cure for cancer.

“Radium Girls” traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumors could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illnesses among his employees.

As the case goes on, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corp., but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire.

Performances of “Radium Girls” are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in Kelly Theatre.

The cast includes WLU sophomore Delaney Bird as Grace Fryer and Dan White as Arthur Roeder. Other student cast members are Paige Fields, Makenna Berka, Merritt Kraft, Alexis Woodard, Meile Morris, Odessa Hores, Fiona Rushton, Serena Smith, Hayden Heiserman, Grant VanCamp, Benjamin Games, Dakota McGrew and Callia Byard.

Meta Lasch, assistant professor of theater, is the set designer. Sound design is by student Cody Stanton and lighting design is by graduate student Alex Franke. Students Carly Balog and Jailyah Green are serving as stage manager and assistant stage manager, respectively.

Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online and at the door. For more informatino, contact Aulick at maulick@westliberty.edu.

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