Annual One Act competition season begins


Emma Bird

Actors sign up to audition for the school’s One Act.

The curtains rise for the upcoming One Act production These Shining Lives by Melanie Marnich. The audition sign-up sheet was posted on December 2, marking the beginning of the much-anticipated season.

These Shining Lives takes place during the roaring 1920’s and focuses not on the charismatic lifestyles of the time period, but rather a group of hardworking women. Delighted to find independence in the workplace, this group of women are employed by Radium Dial, a clock and watch company. Their job is to paint the clock and watch faces with a powdered form of radium. Unbeknownst to the dangers of radium, these women find themselves in hazardous working conditions and unfortunate circumstances from handling the radium.

This year’s One Act is based on the life story of Catherine Donahue. Similar to These Shining Lives, Donahue and her friends applied to work in a factory in Ottawa, Illinois named Radium Dial. As she and her co-workers painted, they would lick the radium coated paint brush in order to thin the bristles and create more intricate designs. Years passed and the other factory women started to notice symptoms of radium-poisoning including the development of anemia and bone cancer. In 1938, Donahue filed a lawsuit, requesting compensation for the workers. She won the court case and her company agreed to pay a few thousand dollars towards medical benefits, but unfortunately, Catherine Donahue soon died due to the radium poisoning.

Both the One Act and Catherine Donahue’s story are primarily focused on the basic rights of workers. Director and BSM English teacher Maura Brew considers that the topic of workers’ rights is prevalent in today’s society. “I always want to find [a One Act] that has a message and is relevant to the audience. This issue is always relevant,” Brew said.

Not only do the actors shine the spotlight on the topic at hand, but One Act allows actors to learn  more about the world around them. Senior Sabrina Ehrmantraut has participated in the past three One Act plays (Women in War, The Mote in the Eye, and Falling), which have covered controversial topics in today’s society, including women in the military, racism, and autism. Ehrmantraut has gained years of experience on how the One Act is unlike other theater performances. “One Act is unlike anything. It has a moral to it. One Act has brought me knowledge of war, racism, and autism,Ehrmantraut said.

Unlike the school play and musical, the One Act is a high school league activity (MSHSL), meaning that they compete against other schools in one, large tournament. In order to pull together a successful One Act performance, they must follow strict guideline. The piece itself cannot be any longer than 35 minutes, the total number crew and cast members must be under 20 people, and the set must fit in a designated area. This year, BSM will be hosting the MSHSL’s tournament conference for the second consecutive year.

The most unique thing about the One Act is that the purpose is to convey a message in under 35 minutes. The cast and crew not only perform to compete, but to influence the audience. “Any form of theater has an impact on the audience, so you’re going to walk away with something. Some may be more meaningful than others, but there will always be something,” Brew said.

Students who are interested in participating in this year’s One Act may sign up on the designated sheet outside room 151. No preparation for auditions is needed, the information students will need will be next to the sign-up sheet.

Auditions will begin on Tuesday, December 8th at 3:45 p.m. in room 151. There will also be a performance exclusively for BSM students on Tuesday, January 26th right after school. Students are also encouraged to cheer on their fellow thespians at the Conference Tournament on Monday, January 25th and at subsections on January 27th at the Academy of Holy Angels.