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RHS play is state champ; international festival coming up

Feb 26, 2017 By Andrea Novotny, Staff Writer

The Riverton High School drama team's production of "These Shining Lives" took first place in the Chapter Select award, the highest honor in the Wyoming State Drama competition.

The team performed the piece on Feb. 11 in Riverton, and will advance to the International Thespian Festival in June in Lincoln, Nebraska.

"These Shining Lives" tells the true story of a group of women who work at Radium Dial, painting luminous numbers on watch and clock faces in Illinois in the 1920s and 30s. The women all develop irreversible and fatal health condition and file a lawsuit against the company.

"They used the paint brushes that they would twirl between their lips so they could paint, and they had to put radium in it so it would glow," Katrina Tyler, who plays factory worker Charlotte Purcell explained.

The piece originally took first in the proscenium category, one of three main stage categories, at the Wyoming State Drama competition in December. The three first place main stage performances -- proscenium stage, group performance art, and arena stage -- were then voted on by fellow student competitors.

Riverton's team was declared a clear winner within the first five minutes of award presentation, said Joseph Thornton who played the factory boss.

Many characters said that what helped them get into their rolls was researching the real-life individuals that inspired their characters.

"This really did happen in Chicago. It also happened in New York. There were lots of court cases," McLaughlin said. "I looked up pictures of the real Catherine Donohue before she died and she was so skinny and she couldn't stand up. Their jaws would pop out of's really kind of like horrifying to look at those pictures but it helps you realize like the magnitude of the situation."

Tyler echoed her thoughts, noting that the "real life component" both educates and strikes a chord with audiences.

"Researching the effects of radium poisoning and what that feels like, and looking at Charlotte Purcell in real life -- she got her arm amputated -- it is pretty horrifying to look at how this actually happened and know that you're bringing them back to life to tell this story," Tyler said.

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