"Radium Girls: In Concert"

 

RADIUM GIRLS

In Concert 

An Original Rock Opera by Fouad Dakwar

Song List:

  1. The Boys are Gone

  2. Take the Stage

  3. A Job

  4. Radium

  5. Her Jaw

  6. What’s it All For?

  7. The Light That Doesn’t Lie

  8. The Fight

  9. The Plea

  10. What’s it All For Reprise

Newark, New Jersey. 1914

(A concert venue: Microphones in their stands, a band on stage tuning, standing room only. MOLLIE enters, interacting with the band members as she passes them. Upon reaching the mic stand center stage, she interacts with the audience before enthusiastically counting in the band:)

MOLLIE

One, two, uh, one two three four!

 

(With the introductory chords, the other Radium Girls besides KATHERINE make their way through the crowd and onto the stage, shoving audience members aside and socializing on their way. They all wear classic rockstar attire: jean and leather jackets, cargo boots, skinny jeans, etc. They are confident, badass, often sarcastic, and always captivating.)


1. “The Boys are Gone”

MOLLIE

Every so often

When powerful men

Just pick up a pen

They wage a war then

HAZEL

Again and again

They send other men

To go meet their ends

GRACE

To prove they have huge sex organs

HAZEL

They get men they claim they’ve protected

And send them to kill instead

ELLA

Those come back, fucked in the head

GRACE

If they aren’t dead...

MOLLIE

When one of these sort of wars happens

The jobs that the world thought “too masculine”

All of a sudden become open season

For seizin’

ALL

By women!

 

It’s a war so the boys are gone

What’s in store,

What could lie beyond?

It’s a war so the boys are gone

So we’re moving on

 

(Instrumental break. The girls spread out and socialize with audience members.)

 

GRACE

All we’ve been doing

Is asking when life begins

With no chance of proving

Everything we’ve held within

MOLLIE

But now that illusion

Is gone and what’s always been

Is now made apparent:

These fools and their rules all mean nothing

ALL

It’s a war so the boys are gone

What’s in store?

What could lie beyond?

 

It’s a war so the boys are gone

What’s in store?

What could lie beyond?

 

It’s a war so the boys are gone

(KATHERINE enters discreetly in the background and takes one of the band members’ guitars in preparation to play in the next song.)

So we’re moving on

So we’re moving on

So we’re moving on

(The girls disperse to different parts of the theater with their microphones to watch KATHERINE approach the center microphone.)


2. “Take the Stage”

KATHERINE

Uh one two three four!


Any way the wind is blowing

I know that I won’t be going

Anywhere

I always end up here


Where nothing new is ever showing

So I’m left with always knowing

Yeah, I’m aware

My future’s been made clear


ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

But I’m gonna make a change

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna break the chains

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna find a

KATHERINE & ENSEMBLE

Way to steer

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

But I’m gonna make a change

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna break the chains

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna take the stage from here


Sunlight isn’t ever showing

So I guess I won’t be glowing

“Life’s not fair,”

That’s all I ever hear


ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

But I’m gonna make a change

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna break the chains

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna find a

KATHERINE & ENSEMBLE

Way to steer

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

But I’m gonna make a change

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna break the chains

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna take the stage from here


I don’t know what’s right,

I’m not sure what’s wrong

But I won’t slow or stop the fight

To find where I belong

Finally

ENSEMBLE

Whoa-oh

Whoa-oh

KATHERINE & ENSEMBLE

When will it turn day?

All I’ve known is night

God, there’s gotta be a way

I can change this sight

For sore eyes

KATHERINE

That is me

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

But I’m gonna make a change

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna break the chains

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna find a

KATHERINE & ENSEMBLE

Way to steer

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna make a change

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna break the chains

ENSEMBLE

(Whoa)

KATHERINE

I’m gonna take the stage from here

The stage from here


I don’t know what’s right

I’m not sure what’s wrong

But I won’t

Slow or stop the fight

To find where I belong

Finally

(KATHERINE exits determined as GRACE emerges from her perch.)


3. “A Job”

GRACE

There’s so much that I’ve never done before

A million things I’d do if not myself

But laws say, “That is not what God has made you for,”

Until there’s no one else and they need help


So now I get to choose what I wanna do

I can’t just snooze, the men could come home soon

But I’m gonna do a job so well, they can’t refuse

To keep me working ‘til I’m in my tomb

(MOLLIE, having overheard GRACE’s laments whilst navigating the crowd, appears on stage:)

MOLLIE

I’ve got a job

One that’s perfect for you

All are dying to do,

So tell me do you want it?


I’ve got a job

One that’s perfect for you

All are dying to do,

So tell me do you want it?



You take a brush

And lick it so the point is fine,

Spoken: Bosses orders

Then dip it in this mush

That makes the watches shine

 

Don’t let it gush

Just wait a while, and watch it dry

You’re in no rush,

You’re paid a bunch for each done dial

MOLLIE & GRACE

I’ve got a job

One that’s perfect for you

All are dying to do,

So tell me do you want it?


I’ve got a job

One that’s perfect for you

All are dying to do,

So tell me do you want it?


(Instrumental break, some time has passed. GRACE, on a break from her new job, spots KATHERINE reentering confusedly in search of her own:)

 

GRACE

You’re looking lost, kid

So what can I do you for?

KATHERINE

I think it’s time I took my life and made it more

So what is this business?

GRACE

It’s a watches store

KATHERINE

They hire us?

GRACE

They must

With all those men at war


I’ve got a job

One that’s perfect for you

All are dying to do,

So tell me do you want it?

GRACE & KATHERINE

I’ve got a job

One that’s perfect for you

All are dying to do,

So tell me do you want it?


4. “Radium”

GRACE

So what do you say?

KATHERINE

(Noticing a tray of radium on stage:) What’s on that tray?


(The other girls begin filtering back on stage slowly during the introductory riff. Green light suddenly floods the stage.)

GRACE

That glowing green substance,

They call it radium

ELLA

It’s here in abundance

KATHERINE

My god, it’s radiant

GRACE

Take just a bit,

The boss won’t know

ENSEMBLE

(And through you, it will flow)

GRACE

Then rub it in

Your skin will glow

ENSEMBLE

(A brand new you will show)

HAZEL

In magazines,

It’s being deemed,

“The cream of queens”

+ENSEMBLE

It’s what you need

And with this job

It’s guaranteed

GRACE

So are you in?

KATHERINE

How could I say no?


5. “Her Jaw”

GRACE

Uh one, two, three, four!

ENSEMBLE

C’mon

C’mon
C’mon

C’mon!


(The other girls sit on the lip of the stage as they continue chanting their “C’mons!” GRACE addresses the audience:)

GRACE

How you doing so far, everybody?

(Waits for audience an audience reaction:)


Well don’t stay too happy

You’ve met my friend here, Mollie

(She pulls MOLLIE back up on stage. MOLLIE seems confused. This is not in the script.)

Now repeat after me!


GRACE

Let’s rehearse

(She holds the microphone to the audience waiting for a response:)

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

Let’s rehearse

GRACE

Could be worse

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

Could be worse


GRACE

Her jaw hurt

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(Her jaw hurt)

GRACE

She visited a doctor

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(She visited a doctor)

GRACE

Who sent her to a dentist

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(Who sent her to a dentist)

GRACE

Bent over to inspect it

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(Bent over to inspect it)

GRACE

Then something unexpected

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(Then something unexpected)

GRACE

Crack pop

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(Crack pop)

GRACE

Now stop

(She cuts off the audience in classic conductor fashion.)

ENSEMBLE

Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw

GRACE

Oh my god!

ENSEMBLE

Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw

GRACE

Just broke off


Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw

ENSEMBLE

Her jaw just broke right off


(Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw

Her jaw)

(The ENSEMBLE continues underneath GRACE:)

GRACE

You all ready for some more?

‘Cause if you’re feeling queasy, there’s the door


The next day

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(The next day)

GRACE

Her throat began to ache

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(Her throat began to ache)

GRACE

She called out for her nurses

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

(She called out for her nurses)

GRACE

Before she had a hemorrhage

(The band cuts out suddenly as GRACE loses all enthusiasm, drops her mic to her side, and takes a beat. The audience should be cut off guard.)


Let’s see what she has to say:


(MOLLIE takes center stage in place of GRACE who watches from afar.)


6. “What’s it All For?”

MOLLIE

You work hard all your life
Just to crumble up and die,
So what’s it all for?
Does it ever add up to something more?

Am I going to heaven?

That sure is tempting,
It’s a happy ending
But really I’m sure
That it never adds up to something more

I pack my bags
For an unknown destination
With only rags,
Rewards for all my patience,
Walk on a path
That leads me to a station
Step on the tracks
And there I sit in waiting

So what’s it all for?
Does it ever add up to something more?
What’s it for?

Does it ever add up to something more?
What’s it for?

Does it ever add up to something more?


So what’s it all for?
Does it ever add up to something more?
What’s it for?

Does it ever add up to something more?
What’s it for?

Does it ever add up to something more?

(MOLLIE ceremoniously returns her mic to its stand before slowly walking off stage. The other girls return to their mic stands and the green light returns.)


7. “The Light that Doesn’t Lie”

ELLA

I look in the mirror,

I know my end’s nearer

‘Cause these glowing green lines on my face

Just remind me my fate

Has been sealed and delivered

HAZEL

With more disappearing

We’ve lost hope of steering

+ENSEMBLE

‘Cause these glowing green lines on our faces

Decided our fates

As those worthy of fearing

GRACE

Don’t protest or deny

You know the light doesn’t lie

You get to rest when you die

So say goodbye

Say goodbye

Say goodbye

No way to fight

That blinding light

That doesn’t lie

ALL

Whoa oh oh oh

Whoa oh oh oh

Oh

Whoa oh oh oh

Whoa oh oh oh

Oh


Don’t protest or deny

You know the light doesn’t lie

You get to rest when you die

So say goodbye

Say goodbye

Say goodbye

No way to fight

That blinding light that doesn’t lie


Somber:

So say goodbye

Say goodbye

Say goodbye

No way to fight

That blinding light that doesn’t lie


(KATHERINE and GRACE share a look before she exits. There is clear tension.)


8. “The Fight”

KATHERINE

We can’t just give up

This substance spills our blood

When our positions were held by men

They gave them all protection

But when they’re off to war or dead

We’re told to lick the brush instead


We gotta fight this

It isn’t over yet

Strong and frightless,

We’ll be their greatest threat


Now

We take the fight

Right to them

ENSEMBLE

(Can’t back down)

KATHERINE

Now

Turn out the lights

And then

ENSEMBLE

(We turn our fate around)

(Instrumental break during which the girls spread out and distribute protest signs to audience members.)

HAZEL

We’ll assure that

Not another worker

Is ever injured

ELLA

Won’t let ‘em get away with murder,

No sir!

ALL

No sir!


Now

We take the fight

Right to them

(Can’t back down)

Now

Turn out the lights

And then

(We turn our fate around)

Now

We take the fight

Right to them

(Can’t back down)

Now

Turn out the lights

And then

(We turn our fate around)

KATHERINE

Who do they think we are?

These lives aren’t theirs, they’re ours

We’ve all made it this far

Let’s get what we came for!

ALL

Who do they think we are?

These lives aren’t theirs, they’re ours

We’ve all made it this far

Let’s get what we came for!

KATHERINE

So we’re moving on

Act fast

There’s not long


So we’ll use the law

Get rules passed

Right their wrongs

(KATHERINE chants as if leading a rally:)

KATHERINE

Let’s take the fight right to them!

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

Can’t back down!

KATHERINE

Now turn out the lights and then!

ENSEMBLE & AUDIENCE

Turn our fate around!

(This repeats until the audience is really getting the hang of it before GRACE barges in, dissolving the chant. The music cuts out for the first time in the piece and the house lights turn on. We are in the real world:)


GRACE

What do you think you’re doing?

KATHERINE

Rallying, getting the people on our side. If we spread the word, they can put pressure on the Corporation and they’ll have to concede the trial-

GRACE

This is what “the people” think of us, Katherine.

(She holds up a sign she has been holding at her side reading, “Radium Poisoning Syphilis is real, immediate, and deadly” before throwing it to the ground. KATHERINE begins to react but GRACE continues:)

Yeah, one of your saviors here wrote this. (She gestures towards the audience members) I don’t blame them though: With the weekly articles pinning our symptoms on Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, who knows what else;

KATHERINE

(But I’ve never-)

GRACE

The bribed scientists publishing fake studies supposedly proving that radium is harmless;

KATHERINE

(Science is objecti-)

GRACE

(Reaching a breaking point:) The fact that we’re us and they’re them. That’s the only “objective” part of all this besides the fact that we won’t live long enough to see the end of this trial. (Beat) We lost Ella last night.

(ELLA slowly walks off stage. KATHERINE sees her walk by but GRACE continues seemingly oblivious:)

So I got us a plea deal. Out of court. We each get a good sum of money that our families can inherit when we’re gone. At least we die comfortably.

KATHERINE

But?...

GRACE

But they don’t admit they did anything wrong.

KATHERINE

But they did, we’re dying because of them, we’re sacrificing our reputations because of them, we’re giving up the idea of resting in peace all because of them, and I will not let them get away with it on top of it all. (Beat.) Tell them we reject the plea. We’re gonna win this case if it’s the last thing we do.

(GRACE places her mic back in a stand in order to sing as the concert lighting returns:)

9. “The Plea”

GRACE

Don’t you see that they’re timing us out?

And there is nothing we can do about it

You and me,

We won’t see this whole trial complete

There’s no doubt about it

So won’t you please

Take this plea?

(KATHERINE places her microphone back in its stand, mimicking GRACE:)

KATHERINE

You know that we’re worth more

In fact, we can’t be bought or sold

Yeah we’re the facts

They can’t afford to change

GRACE

You’re not the hero you perform

In fact, your bones are being torn

Does that remind you

We’re on track to fade away?


You were looking lost kid

I’m the one that brought you here

Yeah we’re falling off a cliff

And I’m the one that steered


Knowing so’s the only part of death I fear

I know that it’s my role while it’s still far not near


I’ve got a job

So won’t you sign this plea

Please for me?

(Beat.)

KATHERINE

No.

(As KATHERINE begins to exit, GRACE doubles over on her mic stand coughing uncontrollably. She knocks over mic stands and parts of the drum kit in an attempt to stabilize herself. The audience should feel like something is really going wrong. Don’t let this be cheesy. KATHERINE runs back to try and save her but it is too late. As GRACE falls into Katherine’s arms, her coughing intensifies before subsiding to silence. As KATHERINE hopelessly shakes GRACE, MOLLIE enters and the final song begins.)

(Trailing away:) Grace! Grace, please no stay with me!


10. “What’s it All For Reprise”

MOLLIE

You work hard all your life
Just to crumble up and die
So what’s it all for?
Does it ever add up to something more?

(GRACE stands up slowly and phantom-like with a spotlight on her as KATHERINE watches in grief.)


+GRACE

Thinkin’ I’m goin’ to heaven
That sure is temptin’
It’s a happy ending
When really I’m sure
That it never adds up to something more

ALL

So we pack our bags
For an unknown destination
With only rags-
Rewards for all our patience
We take a path
That leads us to a station
We’re on the tracks
Hand in hand in waiting

So what’s it all for
(Does it ever add up to something more?)

What’s it for
(Does it ever add up to something more?)

So what’s it for

(Does it ever add up to something more?)


So what’s it all for
(Does it ever add up to something more?)

What’s it for
(Does it ever add up to something more?)

So what’s it for

(Does it ever add up to something more?)


(GRACE, MOLLIE, and the remaining girls exit as the band continues. KATHERINE hesitantly takes and signs the plea deal that GRACE left behind before finally exiting as well. She drops the document behind her on the way out. Blackout.)