CCA’s powerful play ‘Radium Girls’ explores social injustice

Cast of Radium Girls
(Ken Jacques Photography)

“Nobody knew about things like that then – science just wasn’t as advanced, the way it is now” – Harriet Roeder, Radium Girls, D. W Gregory playwright

CCA’s 2019-2020 theater season opened with Radium Girls, a play written by D. W. Gregory. This powerful drama is based on the true story of young women working in factories in the 1920s, painting watch dials with self-luminous paint. By 1926, radium was declared a miracle cure, Madame Curie was seen as an international celebrity for her discovery of radium, and luminous watches were the latest rage — until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious illness. Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. As the case goes on, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the US Radium Corporation, but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire.

Jeannine Marquie, CCA’s Envision Theater Arts coordinator, who directed “Radium Girls,” chose this play because “this compelling story offers great opportunity for character study and research. It is also an important lesson in social justice as it is one of the first instances in the United States of a corporation being held legally responsible for the safety and well-being of its employees. The story highlights America’s obsession with the commercialization of science as well as our unique American ability to fight injustices. To experience and portray this story fully, Envision Theatre Arts collaborated with CCA’s Humanities Conservatory through research, classroom presentations and information to help audiences understand the time period. This is a difficult story to tell due to the tragic nature of the piece, and our students have put all of their energy and focus into helping the audience have an authentic experience.”

Join CCA’s Envision Theater Arts in saluting these brave women and their quest for justice. There are three opportunities left to see this play:

Thursday, Oct. 31 (4:30 p.m.)

Friday, Nov. 1 (7 p.m.)

Saturday, Nov. 2 (7 p.m.)

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door. Location: Canyon Crest Academy Proscenium Theater, 5951 Village Center Loop Road, Carmel Valley, 92130. Phone (858) 350-0253

CCA Envision Theater is supported by the Envision and the CCA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich the experience of every student, every day.