Putting on any play is difficult. Add on a brand-new director, historical fiction, and a drama like Radium Girls, and you’ve got a daunting task on your hands. Luckily, Leesville gained an experienced director this year, and he’s more than ready for the challenge. Matthew Hurley will be directing the Leesville fall play Radium Girls and has already begun preparing for the show.
First up in the process came choosing the play. “The script really spoke to me,” Hurley said over email. Radium Girls is a relatively intense show– a historical drama filled with humor, passion, and warmth, but also fear, anger, and angst. It’s a tough show to put on: Darker than last year’s Yo, Vikings! or even Chicago-– but “after doing more light-hearted shows for the past several years, (Hurley) was excited about the idea of a drama.”
After that comes casting which is putting actors who audition in the roles for the play. Leesville has many talented actors and actresses– 51 auditioned, according to Hurley, but he only needed 25 for the main cast. This makes it difficult to eliminate over half of those who audition to find the right person for every role.
Students auditioned on one of two days, reading for different parts and in most cases doing a dramatic monologue. If Hurley, along with his team of Jeannine Wrayno, technical director, and Smith Hendricks and Anne-Sophie Hill, assistant directors, decided they wanted to see more of an actor, they would bring them back on a different day for callbacks. After that, all they had to do was pick who they wanted for each part– it sounds simple, but there were lots of factors that go into the decisions. Hurley said diversity was very important when casting, for example.
Next up is rehearsal. In rehearsal, actors learn blocking, which is the movement that occurs onstage, and fine-tune their performance. Behind the scenes, people known as “techies” work on everything other than acting: props, scenery, and costumes, to name a few. “We are early in the process, but I have been extremely impressed by the talent and commitment of the LRHS students involved,” said Hurley.
That’s the last step in preparing for the play– gathering everything. Everybody from directors to actors has a crucial role, and those roles come together to put on a show that audiences hopefully enjoy. Hurley’s is arguably the most complex role, but he said he’s “extremely excited to work with the students to tell this important story about women’s rights, workers’ rights, and corporate responsibility.”
Radium Girls is being shown at Leesville from November 13 to 16.