By Lexxi Swanson
Lincoln High came in 2nd this year at the State One Act Competition after bringing home the first place trophy at Districts on Dec. 4, 2014 at Bellevue East. The play was “These Shining Lives,” by Melanie Marnich.
Based on a true story, the play is about women in the 1930s working in a watch factory who get radium poisoning because of exposure to toxic chemicals. They got no help for several years because there were no worker protection laws.
It stood out from some of the other plays in the district competition, because of its serious subject and emotional performances.
“When we got to the oral critique [at Districts], all the judges were very high in their praise, director and LHS English teacher Justin Holbein said. “They really liked the production, and they liked the theatricality of it.”
Many do lighter shows for fun or because that’s what other schools are doing, Holbein said, but at Lincoln High we do more serious plays that have educational value. Holbein prefers to do “substance over spectacle.”
“Our students learn so much by doing something of substance, and I think that’s lacking from a lot of high school productions.”
The lead role, Catherine Donohue, was played by senior Rachele Merliss. “I like the role because she is strong, funny, charming, and silly,” Merliss said. “I felt really good about the performance. I felt like it went really well, and I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Senior Cat Nyberg played Charlotte Purcell, another of the lead roles in the show. “I like Charlotte, because she’s really sassy, and she’s willing to stand up for what she believes in, and she’s always there to support her friends.”
“I think the high point was, if not just winning [Districts], having the whole ensemble get best actor awards,” Holbein said. “That’s never happened to me before. All the women factory workers got awards for best actress. Then Nash Jack and Andrew Miller Shell, and then the four principle girls got one, too. Sixteen girls out of the cast got best actress awards, so that shows the power of the ensemble.”
But, there were also parents involved deeply in the making of “These Shining Lives.” Gail Witzki, Tom Witzki’s mom, designed all of the costumes used in the production. They were all made at the LHS theatre department costume shop, and not a single custom was rented.
“It’s a credit to her and the other moms like Cheri Ernst and Cathy Marshall that continue to come help us to be the best we can me and by giving of their time,” Holbein said. “It’s a Lincoln High production. Everybody is involved from the parents to the students and to DMAP [Drama Mamas and Papas], and when they do their work, we have a good performance.