“These Shining Lives” radioactive drama

Tammi Doyle (director) and lead actor Jack Anderson holding the book and script for the upcoming play These Shining Lives

Tammi Doyle is the chair of the Theatre Arts Department of Drama and Dance at Bellevue College. She began as an adjunct professor at BC and taught American Studies and Communication Studies as well as Drama, before she was hired for the position she’s currently in. She has been the Theatre Arts Department chair since 2004.

Tammi Doyle (director) and lead actor Jack Anderson holding the book and script for the upcoming play These Shining Lives
Tammi Doyle (director) and lead actor Jack Anderson holding the book and script for the upcoming play These Shining Lives

Doyle said that the BC theatre department is known for “putting on consistently good shows.” She said that she tries to serve students when it comes to making decisions as chair.

The upcoming show, “These Shining Lives,” is about the radium girls, women who worked painting clocks with radioactive paint in a factory in the 1920s. These women sued their employers in a lawsuit that lasted from 1922 to 1936.

The theater puts on at least three major productions a year, one per quarter. If possible, a fourth production happens in the summer. There are also productions that students create and perform independently, at least one full length play as well as a short play festival.

Tammi looks for respectful students who are willing to work hard. There are open auditions for all the major productions during the year, no enrollment in a drama class or prior drama experience is required for tryouts. BC offers an Academic Concentration in Theater, and Doyle said that for students planning to continue their education locally that “there are a lot of great theater programs in the northwest.”

With this historical background, the play is mainly about “what happened to one working woman and her family in Illinois,” Doyle said.

The BC theater department “gives you a beautiful platform” says Sarah Richard, who plays Catherine, the lead role. Richard has been involved in theater her entire life, and says it helped her with self improvement and taught her life skills. Although she didn’t originally plan to pursue a theater education at Bellevue College, she said she “couldn’t stay away.” This is now her third year at BC and she plans to graduate in spring or summer with an academic concentration in Theater. The theater department at BC gives students experience in acting that extends beyond the classroom. “What you learn matters here, but isn’t just for here,” said Richard.

“These Shining Lives” tells a story about one of the first times a company sued by its own employees was found culpable. Richard said that the story “doesn’t skip over reality,” and said she connected with the role of Catherine.

Richard said that fall quarter always brings new energy, but that everyone is so supportive that they always become a community.

She likes dramatic acting, but also enjoys the variety of theater performances. “I learn something new with every show,” Richard said.

Jack Anderson plays Tom, Catherine’s husband. Anderson has been at BC for the past two years, and involved with the theater department the whole time. Anderson said he likes telling stories, which drew him to performing arts. The BC theater department is full of people Anderson described as “open and welcoming.”

“This has moved me so much, I really really want to do this show,” said Anderson, describing how he felt after reading the script for the first time. Anderson connected with the character of Tom, saying “I feel like there’s a lot of myself in him.”

“These Shining Lives” has its first show on November 12th and will run for two weekends.