Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, March 1

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Friday Flickr Feature Belmont CTA Station Public Art: Looking Like Csicsko »

Theatre Fri Jan 30 2009

Extra Show Added for These Shining Lives

These Shining Lives, the Jeff-recommended play directed by Rivendell Theatre Ensemble's Rachel Walshe, closes this weekend. Shows are sold out, but an additional show has been added, today at 4pm. Tickets can be purchased until 3pm today. Go to the website to purchase tickets online.

If you can make it, I highly recommend attending. Throughout the play's over two-hour duration my eyes were glued to the stage, my ears listening attentively. Even if theater is not your thing, you will enjoy this show. Based on Ross Mulner's book, Deadly Glow: The Radium Dial Worker Tragedy, appropriately published by the American Public Health Association, the play written by Melanie Marnich chronicles the story of four women affected by what is known as the radium dial worker tragedy.

Although the tragedy is perhaps not as commonly known as the epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus, it's an important chapter of American history, especially pertinent due to the fact that the last radium dial worker that died from radium poisoning is documented as 1983 in Mulner's book.

Discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in the early 1900s, radium was heralded for its astonishing ability to glow in the dark. In 1902, William J. Hammer, an American electrical engineer, invented a paint using minute amounts of radium that when used on watches and scientific instruments, could be read in the dark. Due to its high cost, however, the commercial benefits of this discovery were not pursued until 1917, when America's entry into WWI created the demand for radium-treated devices.

Hundreds of women gained lucrative employment as dial painters, using a finely pointed brush to apply the paint to watches and other instruments. To speed up the application, the women commonly tipped the brush to their tongue, which over time led to them absorbing the radium that caused their premature deaths.

In These Shining Lives, the story centers on Catherine, a young mother and wife who finds happiness, good pay, and friendship through her work as a radium dial worker at an Ottawa factory during the 1920s, but who ultimately becomes poisoned with radium. Faced with an inevitable fatality, Catherine has to decide between telling the truth to the public about her employer's misdeeds, or accepting her lot with resignation.

Ultimately, the play's theme of "shining" examines the paradoxical beautiful and tragic nature of life. Rebecca Spence (Catherine) shows her husband that her skin is actually glowing in the dark, a foreshadowing of further debilitation, yet the four women enjoying the glowing sun at Lake Michigan suggest that life and death are intrinsically interwoven. Spence conveys a luminosity in this role, with a gentle smile and affecting grace. All the actors are superbly cast and highly endowed performers, with the women in particular successful in drawing audience sympathy.

Clearly director Walshe pays close attention to the development of character. Spence admirably "shines" as the seemingly gentle but surprisingly strong Catherine and Justine C. Turner displays noteworthy acting chops as Charlotte, the tough-as-nails but ultimately vulnerable friend and co-worker.

"You're my hero," Charlotte tells Catherine, in a scene that culminates the play's exploration of how women are affected by history.

The Rivendell Theatre, which focuses on plays about women, has two plays in store for the next half year: The Walls, directed by Lisa Dillman, to debut April 8, 2009, and Fresh Produce, coming in July 2009.

GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15