Radium Girls: Behind the Scenes


Tatiana Madsen

Matthew Barbosa holding the poster for Radium Girls, opening and closing night December 6 and 7 and 7:00 pm. Based off of a true story of women who worked in a factory painting watch dials to glow in the dark. “It’s a cool play,” Barbosa said.

Tatiana Madsen, Co A&E Editor

Students and staff alike enjoy the performances that the Hollis Brookline High School theatre department puts on, but do they know  how much work goes into every single production? 

Matthew Barbosa, the director/producer of the theatre department at the high school, works throughout the entire year to figure out what he would like to put on. Each script he chooses goes through a refined process of the following: intense YouTube watching complete with writing down detailed notes, pros and cons lists making and theatre budget consideration to decide if it was a good fit to be performed at the high school.

To help him with script selection, he scours his rosters- considering which students will be returning and with incoming freshman he saw in the middle school plays might make good fits for each role. Barbosa also likes to remind people every time they come in to audition that everybody has the same audition script for the plays, so it’s completely fair. 

For Radium Girls, Barbosa had a difficult time trying to find the right cast. The original cast with director James W. Robinson, had nine people playing about 37 different roles, and Barbosa felt that he wanted to have more people in his production at HB.

However, in HB’s production of Radium Girls, there are only a few people playing only two or three roles such as “Evan LaFrance, who is going to be playing three completely separate characters, and he has three separate costumes that he has to learn to quick change in, and come up with three character voices, and three motivations, and three personalities, and so it’s a challenge for those while still having traditional lead roles,” said Barbosa.

After Barbosa picks a play and cast, the first rehearsal is the read-through. “We introduce ourselves and what character we’re playing and just in case if some other people don’t know us and then we just go through the entire play and we read our parts and everything,” said Victoria Madsen ‘22. 

Madsen has been in two productions as a cast member, and two as a crew member. She built set pieces and helped move the set pieces onto the stage during the production. Madsen is a part of the theater community because she enjoys the atmosphere. Not only that, but she wants the audience to enjoy what the cast is putting on for them. “For me I guess I don’t really care as long as I’m part of the production. It’s more about the people,” said Madsen.

Backstage, the stage managers work hand-in-hand with Barbosa to make sure that every show is exactly what Barbosa imagines. For 12 shows, Maura Shanley ‘20 has been working backstage as a stage manager for Barbosa and helping him put on fabulous shows. As a stage manager, she can indeed get stressed and overloaded with work on occasions, but she truly does enjoy the work she does backstage. “I would have had a terrible high school experience if it wasn’t for stage managing,” said Shanley.

The entire process of a production is a lot more complex than it may seem. There are different pieces that go into every little thing, and it turns into the production that everybody goes to see. Radium Girls is going through this process at this very moment, before the curtains open on Dec. 6 and 7.