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Blinn-Bryan theatre ends season with dramatic finish

Historical drama, “These Shining Lives,” sheds light on women’s work conditions in early 20th century

April 25, 2017

The Blinn College Theatre Arts Program brings its 2016-17 Bryan Campus theatre season to a close with a historical drama that sheds light on the dangers women faced in the workforce during the 1920s.

Blinn will present Melanie Marnich’s “These Shining Lives” at 7:30 p.m. April 27-29 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30, in Bryan Campus Student Center Room F-120. Performances are $5 for students and $10 for the general public. Seating is first-come, first-served. Tickets can be purchased at www.blinn.edu/vpa/bryan-schedule.html. For questions regarding ticket reservations, contact the Box Office at 979-209-8100. Tickets also will be available at the door.

Based on real people and events, the production follows four women – Catherine, Pearl, Charlotte, and Frances – who paint watch dials in a factory in Ottawa, Illinois in the 1920s and early 1930s. The paint, which contains the harmful element radium, soon wreaks havoc on the women’s health.

The audience will be led through the trials and tribulations these women endured not only to bring justice to themselves, but to all women working in unregulated environments in the early 20th century. The landmark legal case against their former employer paved the way for the passage of occupational disease labor laws still in effect today.

“‘These Shining Lives’ tells a story that history has forgotten,” said Jean Daniels, Theatre Professor and Production Director. “Many women felt it was their patriotic duty to be a part of the workforce during this time period. Painting watch dials was a job women excelled at – but it came with terrible consequences.”

“These Shining Lives” was chosen in line with the 2016-17 season’s theme showcasing female playwrights. Melanie Marnich, an American playwright and television writer, is best known for her work on the HBO drama “Big Love,” which earned her a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award nomination in 2010. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award, and Selma Melvoin Playwriting Award.

“If you look at the canon of writers out there, it is quite disproportionate,” said Greg Wise, Theatre Director. “We need to be more intentional with the voices we represent on stage.”

Following Friday’s performance, the audience is invited to stay for a brief “Friday Night Talkback” in which the director and actors return to the stage to discuss the production and answer questions from the audience.

Blinn’s Theatre Arts Program hosts a variety of performances each year on its Bryan and Brenham campuses, and offers a quality educational foundation through study, application and experience. The Theatre Arts Program is part of Blinn’s Division of Visual/Performing Arts & Kinesiology, which offers courses and hands-on learning opportunities in architecture, arts, communication studies, construction science, kinesiology, music, and theatre.

Registration for Blinn’s May Minimester, Summer I and II, and Fall 2017 semester is now open for all students. For enrollment information and to learn about financial aid opportunities, visit: www.blinn.edu.