‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ to be presented by theater department

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March 27, 2018

Actors in LughnasaBrian Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” will be presented over two April weekends by the theater department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.

The play will be presented at 7:30 p.m. April 5-7, 2 p.m. Sunday, April 8, and 7:30 p.m. April 12-14 at the Gorecki Family Theater, Benedicta Arts Center, CSB.

Set in the fictional village of Ballybeg, Ireland, in the summer of 1936, “Dancing at Lughnasa” is a memory play told from the perspective of an adult Michael Evans (played by Kyle Yetzer). Michael spent the summer with his mother (Christina Mundy, played by Aryana Chellgren) and four aunts, the Mundy sisters – Rose (Breana Burggraff), Kate (Sophia Pellizzer), Agnes (Karly Hennen) and Margaret (Katie Wagner).

“This particular play is about a family of five females,” said Sean Dooley, assistant professor of theater at CSB and SJU who is directing the play. “It allows our female students to play independent, well-defined, three-dimensional characters.”

Their brother, Father Jack Mundy (Noah Campbell), recently returned home after working 25 years as a missionary in a leper colony in Uganda. And, Michael’s father Gerry Evans (Robert Karlson) returns bearing gifts for Michael and sweet words for Christina.

A scene from the playThe play takes place in early August, around the festival of Lughnasadh, the Celtic harvest festival. The play describes a bitter harvest for the Mundy sisters, who are also dealing with the loss of jobs. The sisters dance away their concerns to the sound of their old radio.

Friel, a native of Northern Ireland, wrote the play in 1990. He was a dramatist, short story writer and founder of the Field Day Theatre Company in Derry, Northern Ireland. He was likened to an Irish Chekhov and described as the universally accented voice of Ireland. Friel’s plays have been compared favorably to those of contemporaries such as Samuel Beckett, Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter and Tennessee Williams.

The play was turned into a 1998 movie starring Meryl Streep.

Running time for the play is approximately two hours, with an intermission.

Tickets for “Dancing at Lughnasa” are $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens, CSB/SJU faculty and staff and youth/students, and $5 for CSB/SJU students.

For tickets, call the Benedicta Arts Center Box Office at 320-363-5777 or order online.