What happens when a corporation values profits over the lives of its workers?
That's the central question in D.W. Gregory's play "Radium Girls," which opens June 22 in the Subversive Theatre's Manny Fried Playhouse. And the answer, as theatergoers familiar with the rabble-rousing mission of this theater company might expect, is less than pretty.
The show, directed by Kelly Beuth and featuring a cast of students from Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, tells the true story of a group of female workers toiling in several watch factories. Those women were instructed to paint watch faces with a glowing paint that turned out to be highly radioactive.
"In the face of corporate denials, male chauvinism, and a staggering bastardization of science, one defiant rank-and-file worker mounts a campaign for justice that just may cost her everything," Subversive's description of the play reads. It also explores "America's gruesome obsession with progress and profit to the point of complete disregard for the human suffering that comes along the way."
The production is the seventh installment of the Subversive Youth Series, which gives local high school students a yearly opportunity to perform on a professional stage.
"Radium Girls" opens at 8 p.m. June 22 and runs through July 1 in the Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave. Tickets are $8 to $12. Call 408-0499 or visit subversivetheatre.org.