That is how Alan Klem, associate professor of theatre, sums up “Dancing at Lughnasa, “an Irish play that will soon be performed by Creighton University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
Written by Irish playwright Brian Friel, “Dancing at Lughnasa” won numerous awards, including the 1992 Tony Award for Best Drama. In addition, the production was chosen by Time as one of the 10 best plays in 1991.
The play, set in 1936, takes place in a small Irish village. The young narrator, Michael, traces the lives of five unmarried sisters – one of whom is his mother – as they partake in activities, including the celebrations surrounding the pagan festival of Lughnasa. Dancing and drunken revelries come to fill an area that is accustomed to monotony, and these occurrences ultimately end up clashing with the religious stances of the time. Seeking to escape the tedium of their lives, the sisters turn to their radio that they affectionately refer to as “Marconi” as both a source of hope and a link to the world outside.
“The radio is not just a radio – it’s almost like a character in the play,” Klem, the play’s director, said. “It is [the sisters'] window to the outside world.”
This intriguing story line, as well as the play’s countless awards, led Klem to believe that “Dancing at Lughnasa” would be an ideal fit for his student actors.
“One of our major focuses was to look at the talent we had in the department,” he said.
Considering this, Klem knew that his talented cast would be up for the challenge of conquering the distinct Irish dialect involved in the play.
“The far Northern Irish dialects are very strong – we’re trying to be true to that,” Klem said. “I think the cast is really taking to it, and they’ve worked extra hours to do it correctly.”
Arts & Sciences senior Kelsey Dawson, who plays Rose in “Dancing at Lughnasa,” can attest to the countless hours the cast has spent perfecting this dialect.
“One of the biggest things that sets ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ apart from the rest [of the plays] is the dialect,” she said. “We worked with a dialect coach to work on sounding like we are actually in Northern Ireland.”
In addition to this unique dialect, elements of song as well as dance – such as ballroom and Irish – are weaved into the play. Thus, the cast is working tirelessly to perfect the many aspects that make “Dancing At Lughnasa” so memorable for the audience.
“I think that the student actors are doing such a wonderful job and would encourage anyone who knows them to come out and see them perform,” Klem said.
The hard-working cast members as well as Klem feel that their production of “Dancing at Lughnasa” truly offers a little something for everyone.
“I think that the interactions between the sisters will make the audience feel like they’re in their own living rooms at home,” Dawson said.
“There is so much passion, really, in this play,” he said. “There is so much family love that it is heartwarming.”
“Dancing at Lughnasa” will take place in the Studio Theatre of the Lied Education Center for the Arts Feb. 2 -5 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. For reservations, call 280-1448, or stop by the box office the in the Lied Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and $5 for students.