On Saturday, April 30th, my wife Helen and I attended, in Casa Grande, Arizona, the Black Box Theatre’s staging of Radium Girls. In every category—directing, acting, staging—we considered the production another BBT success.
Helen and I had read the script. Black Box Theatre captured the factually-historical events that resulted in the trial against U. S. Radium Corporation–founded in 1914 as the Radium Luminous Material Corporation, the company marketed “Undark,” a mixture of radium and zinc, the radiation causing the sulfide to fluoresce. “During WW I and WW II the company produced luminous watches and gauges for the United States Army for use by soldiers.”– for its combination of understandable ignorance of the dangers of radiation poisoning of the company’s workers and the deliberate negligence by those who benefited one way or another…who dissimulated about their involvement in the effort to protect themselves from legal action in the deaths of the U.S. Radium Corporation’s workers who died from radiation poisoning.
(“At the time, the dangers of radiation were not well understood. Around 1920, a similar radium dial business known as Radium Dial Company, a division of the Standard Chemical Company, opened in Chicago. It soon moved its painting operation to Peru, Illinois to be closer to its major company, the Westclox Clock Company. Several workers died, and the health risks associated with radium were allegedly known, but this company continued dial painting operations until 1940.” Wikipedia.)
Radium Girls is an allegory…a morality tale of a historical event (1925-1928) that involved even the famous scientist Madame Curie, Nobel Prize winner in Physics Victor Francis Hess, and Dr. Sabin Arnold Von Sochocky. In November 1928, Dr. Von Sochocky, the inventor of the radium-based paint died of aplastic anemia, a victim of his own invention.
There is nothing merely symbolic or fictional in the honestly presented, objective truth that displays, in Radium Girls, the self-interested greed of those who were accomplices in the deaths and debilitating illnesses of several U.S. Radium Corporation’s employees.
In December, 2015, at Robson Ranch Hermosa Ballroom in Eloy, AZ., Black Box Theatre staged “Miracle,” my musical adaptation of Valentine Davies screenplay “Miracle on Thirty Fourth Street.” “Miracle” was also a morality tale about greed and self-interest.
The principal difference was that my script employed the historical actuality of St. Nicholas and the legends that resulted in Santa Claus. “Miracle” used the symbolical Kris Kringle who appeared one day, as if by predetermination, to serve as Macy Department Store’s “Santa.”
Kris Kringle’s goal was to sagaciously convince, by promoting “good will,” Mr. Macy and his employees that greedy consumerism is intrinsically dishonest and harmful both to Macy’s customers and Macy’s itself—and that greedy selfishness becomes a plague that is eventually destructive to the morale of a nation.
In Kringle’s battle against John Dewey Sawyer, Macy’s officiously arrogant personnel manager, Kris, with the able assistance of a young attorney named Fred Fairly, overcomes the “malevolent” Sawyer, and convinces Mr. Macy and his employees to see the importance of “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” and what became the striving for “cooperative competition” among Macy, Gimble, and their peers.
Both Radium Girls and Miracle portray the vices of greed and self-interest: conditions that are perpetual in the un-regenerated human heart when it is blind to virtue.
Oxford University and Cambridge University teacher/writer/scholar C. S. Lewis wrote “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
Renew America.com’s Dr. Alan Keyes put it like this http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/keyes/160502 “Thus our strength as a nation, our integrity as a people, is not now, nor will it ever be the artifact of a single person’s arrogant will. The lines that we must ultimately defend are not on some map, to be drawn by an individual and respected for his sake. They are in our hearts, drawn by the hand of our Creator, to be respected for His sake, not only by our enemies but also by ourselves.”