Playwright visits Ireton’s theater department

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As a family of thespians, the Theater Arts Department at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria was fortunate to have acclaimed playwright D.W. Gregory visit Oct. 17 and share her opinion of our fall production “Radium Girls,” offer insight into her interpretations of it and how it is illustrated on stage.

According to the New York Times, D.W. Gregory is “a playwright with a talent to enlighten and provoke.” Gregory is renowned for her deeply emotional, comical and political works, such as “Radium Girls,” “Salvation Road” and “A Good Girl is Gone: A Dark Comedy. “

The intensity that she applies to culture and society impacts students and adults alike. This passion and energy are found readily throughout “Radium Girls,” a beautifully painted portrait of love, life and the unfortunate breakdown due to lawsuits and a disease. “Radium Girls” demonstrates that when people stick together, immense change can occur.

This message stood out to the student cast of Ireton’s “Radium Girls.”  Gregory graciously joined the team to answer their questions, such as, “How do Tom and Grace feel about each other after the curtain closes?” or “Does Markley feel any compassion whatsoever?” and most importantly, “What does D.W. stand for?” In regards to Gregory’s name, the cast had their theories.

Gregory explained her insight and thought process while writing the play, which took her two years. She explained how she wanted the play composed and what it should entail. Her most enlightening statement to the students was, “A culture of compliance creates victims.”

This is the takeaway Gregory wanted for the audience after each show, and this resonated with the cast.

The cast looked at the show with a new goal in mind after hearing her point of view on diverse subjects. According to senior Olivia Hays (Diane Roeder in “Radium Girls”), she felt compelled to “carry the responsibility and gift of portraying truth” in the show and her future career as an actor. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018