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Grand Rapids Players presents 'These Shining Lives'

Actresses for These Shining Lives
Grand Rapids Players Facebook
Cast of Grand Rapids Players "These Shining Lives"

Grand Rapids Players' production of "These Shining Lives" begins this weekend, Sept. 15-16, 2023. Area Voices producer Andrew Dziengel interviews Director Rachelle Randle and Assistant Director Nathan Bergstedt about the play.

GRAND RAPIDS - “They really worked on connecting with these characters on a personal level and just really getting to know who they were, and they really took it to heart” said Rachelle Randle about her cast on their upcoming performances of “These Shining Lives.”

Director Randle and Assistant Director Nathan Bergstedt joined Area Voices to discuss the upcoming Grand Rapids Players production “These Shining Lives.”

“It feels important. These people died fighting for their rights. You want to do it justice”
Nathan Bergstedt

The play is written by Melanie Marnich, who is originally from Duluth, Minn. and is based on the true story of four women who worked for the Radium Dial Company. The play showcases the danger the women were put through by the company and their fight against them.

Randle said even though the play was chosen before she joined on as director “The way it was written, the empowerment of women just all the different elements just fascinated me.” Randle also connected with the show on a personal level because she was going through her own cancer struggles at the time.

Both Randle and Bergstedt take the responsibility of telling these real-life people’s stories very seriously. “It feels important. These people died fighting for their rights. You want to do it justice” said Bergstedt.

Randle prepared the cast with mini history lessons at the beginning of rehearsals, as well as intimacy and character exercises. A lot of the cast members also read the “Radium Girls” book to connect on a personal level.

Women are at the core of the production of “These Shining Lives.” It is written by a woman, directed by a woman, and even the underwriters are majority women owned businesses like Klockow Brewing, UnWined Up North and Smoke on the Water.

“We thought that was important for a story like this that focuses around the plight of these women,” said Bergstedt.

Randle and Bergstedt hope people experience not only a fun night out, but also discussions after the play.

“These issues are still very real today. Women do have to fight harder to advocate for their own healthcare,” Randle said.

“Listen to yourself. Trust yourself. If your diagnosis doesn’t line up with what your body is telling you keep fighting for the answer.”
“These Shining Lives” will be performed at the Reif Center at 7 p.m. Sept. 15-16 and 22-23 and 2 p.m. on 17 and 24.

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Area Voices is made possible by the MN Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of MN.