‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ Weaves Unforgettable Tale
Alma College Theatre presents “Dancing at Lughnasa,” a poignant play that explores the lives of five unmarried sisters living in Ireland who are poor in money, but not in spirit.
The performances take place at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17th, Friday, Feb. 18th and Saturday, Feb. 19th and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20th in the Remick Heritage Center, Strosacker Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students, and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.
“It’s a wonderful play,” says Joe Jezewski, the play’s director. “I’m hard pressed to pick a single favorite play, but this one would definitely be on the list. A good play really lifts us out of ourselves to some other level, and this play does just that.”
A student works in the theatre costume shop.
The play takes place in Ballybeg, Ireland during the 1930s, around the time of a harvest festival intended to honor the Celtic god of the harvest, Lugh. Michael, the narrator, reflects on his life as a 7-year-old boy growing up with his mother and his aunts.
“It’s not until after he sees the ramifications of his life that he can look back with a sense of fondness,” says Jezewski. “The changes are catastrophic for his family, but in retrospect he still has hope, awe and wonder. He’s in touch with a sense of otherness and reminds us that it’s more than events themselves that we remember.”
Jezewski says he is particularly fond of the following line from the play:
“Dancing as if language had surrendered to movement - as if this ritual, this wordless ceremony, was now the way to speak, to whisper private and sacred things, to be in touch with some otherness… Dancing as if language no longer existed because words were no longer necessary.”
“This is a unique moment where the sisters speak through this dance they do,” he says. “It’s not about words but about inner longings and passions not allowed in a strict Catholic society. It’s about layers of feeling that words just can’t express.”
Students involved in the production include Findley, Ohio senior Tara Bouldrey, Traverse City sophomore Tara Riedel and Grand Rapids sophomore Brandon Newton.
Bouldrey, who plays the second oldest sister Maggie, likes the variety of acting styles the performance allows.
“It’s a combination of so many things,” she says. “Everyone sings and dances at least once during the performance, and we get to practice a Welsh-Irish dialect for speaking.”
Newton, who plays Gerry Evans, the father of Michael, says he has enjoyed the challenge of performing his character’s role.
“Playing Gerry forces me to go out of my comfort zone,” he says. “Having to dance and sing while keeping a dialect and remembering my lines — it’s a lot, but I’ve learned so much from it. I know if I’ve walked out feeling exhausted at the end of a rehearsal, I‘ve done my work.”
Riedel, who plays the middle sister Agnes, adds, “Acting teaches you a lot about yourself. It teaches you about bringing down your walls and opening up to yourself and other people.”
While Joshua Olgine is used to being in the spotlight on the stage, he appreciates his position as assistant director for “Dancing at Lughnasa,” if only for the fresh perspective it offers him on theatre.
“It’s fun to see it from the director’s viewpoint,” he says. “I push people, nudge them in their craft as artists. But most of all, I love sitting back and watching it when it’s all done.”
Posted: Wed, February 9th, 2011 at 10:34AM