The Department of Theatre and Dance presented their third play of the semester, “Dancing at Lughnasa.”
The Irish memory play was performed last week from March 1-4 in the Showcase Theatre inside the University Theatre Center.
“Dancing at Lughnasa” was written by Michael Friel in 1981. Friel was born in Ireland in 1929; he grew up Catholic and studied to become a priest. He then changed his mind and began to work as teacher. He started writing short stories and radio plays and he eventually wrote his first play, “Philadelphia Here I Come” in 1964.
The Sam Houston State University performance of “Dancing at Lughnasa” was directed by senior theatre major Aggie Hirsh.
Hirsh said, “I chose this piece because I’ve had a prior experience with it plus it is a female dominate script and we have a female heavy department. I felt like it could showcase the some of the female talent we have here at Sam.”
Her cast included: Jack Ivy as Michael, Amy Burn as Rose, Katie Stefaniah as Maggie, Danielle Lucy as Chris, Laura Dougharty as Agnes, Alissa Plameri as Kate, Jason Cochran as Gerry and Brian Hillsten as Jack.
Friel’s play is based around the narrator, an Irish man named Michael, and his memories of his family.
Ivy said, “Narrating the play was a challenge. You don’t get to interact with the other characters; it’s a completely different task.”
Michael’s memories consist of his mother, four aunts, uncle and on again off again father.
All five of the unmarried Mundy sisters show off their very distinctive personalities, which at times clash. Maggie and her free spirit sometimes get on the nerves of her straight laced and religious sister Kate. The comic relief of the evening came from the spastic and awkward Aunt Rose.
All of the sisters want to attend the Harvest Dance at the Festival of Lughnasa except for Kate, who claims the dance to be a pagan ritual. Kate is also troubled by her brother Jack’s new behavior, which he acquired in his stay in Kenya. Jack speaks of ceremonies and sacrifices that he and the Kenya natives used to perform and this tortures Kate.
Michael’s mother Chris has drama of her own as Michael’s father Gerry shows up out of the blue. By of the end of Michael’s last monologue, Agnes and Rose have run off and Jack has died of a heart attack.
Hirsh said, “You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose but you can’t your family. A family should be there for each other through the good and the bad.”
The piece is set in Ireland in 1936; therefore the cast had to speak in an Irish accent.
Hirsh said,” It was difficult at first but the actors are trained to pick up accents quickly.”
Theatre major Hillsten said, “I liked it; it was fun. Once everyone got around each other speaking in the accent, it was easy to pick up.”
The performance also incorporated some upbeat Irish dancing. The sisters gather in a tight circle and stomped around stage in a true Irish manner.
“[The dancing] made us realize just how out of shape we were,” said Dougharty.
The next SHSU Theatre performance will be “Jesus Christ Super Star,” by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It will be on the Mainstage Theatre from April 5-8.