Spring theater production, "Dancing at Lughnasa," an Irish memory play

Publication Date

The Department of Theater and Dance will present Brian Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” Wednesday, May 26 through Saturday, May 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 30 at 2 p.m.

This dramatic memory play, loosely based on Friel’s family, is told from the point of view of Michael Evans. He looks back on his childhood in Donegal, Ireland in August 1936, when he was seven and being raised by his mother and four aunts, the Mundy sisters.

The story takes place during the Festival of Lughnasa, an ecstatic Dionysian ritual with dancing and drunken revelry that celebrates the feast day of the pagan god, Lugh, a time of welcoming the harvest.

“This drama is about unfolding the past,” said Rachel Feingold ’12, who plays one of the sisters, Agnes. “The audience immediately finds out about the character’s fate.”

“This story is beautiful and profound in many ways,” said guest director Tim Dugan, a professional actor and theater teacher at the John Sayles School of Fine Arts at Schenectady High School.

“The challenge for us as storytellers is to bring as much authenticity to the play as we can,” he added. “That means the actors need to work on a consistent, truthful Irish dialect.” To achieve this, the actors have been receiving voice coaching from Artist-in-Residence Patricia Culbert.

The set, by Resident Scenic Designer Charles Steckler, is a traditional Irish cottage of the 1930s.

“Live Irish music is being played as you enter the theater, so we hope one feels transported back to a different time and to a special place,” Dugan said.

Choreography is by guest artist Rosemary Campbell and Kristin O'Connor ’13. Other students in the play include Bart Tomaszewski ’10, Shannon Vandawalker ’11, Sophie Hewitt ’11, Ryan Semerad ’13, Chris Paine ’12, Annora Brennan ’11 and Maisy Bragg ’12.

Tickets are available at the Box Office in Yulman Theater. Call (518) 388-6545 for more information or to reserve tickets.