Main Navigation

U Theatre presents ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’

Widely regarded as playwright Brian Friel’s masterpiece, “Dancing at Lughnasa” is a luminous, touching portrait of a family trapped by tradition on one side and modernization on the other, searching for beauty and hope as they dance on the brink of ruin.

This version of Freil’s partially self-reflective and overwhelmingly award-winning play is directed by celebrated Department of Theatre Professor Sarah Shippobotham and runs Mar. 15-24 in Performing Arts Building (PAB) Studio 115, located west of the U Bookstore.

“This is a gorgeous play, beautifully written by Brian Friel, one of my favorite playwrights,” Shippobotham said. “His language is powerful without being too much. He brings the sisters to life so vividly and gives them all the dynamics that can come with living at close quarters with people you know too well. It is a somewhat unusual play for me to direct as it is full of realism, and the language outweighs the physical possibilities that I am used to featuring – creating harrowing journeys down the Colorado River in ‘Men On Boats’ and an all-out gender battle in ‘You On The Moors Now’ – but as a language lover and ear-driven person I am thrilled to support our students in bringing this story to our audience’s ears both through our Donegal dialects and our crafting of spoken thoughts. I hope we encourage people to lean in to hear what is being said as well as opening their eyes to a wild dance of longing and need!”

Dancing at Lughnasa promo 148

Photo: Todd Collins

The play is set during harvest time in County Donegal, 1936, and the village of Ballybeg is celebrating with bonfires, drink, and dancing. Meanwhile in a cottage on the outskirts of town, five unmarried sisters struggle to make ends meet for themselves, their brother Jack, and the youngest sister’s illegitimate son, Michael.

Any diversion is welcome, even if it brings temptation — whether from random bursts of music on their unreliable radio, or from the arrival of a charming (and equally unreliable) drifter: Michael’s father.

“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.”

An ASL interpreted performance and audience talkback will take place on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

University of Utah students get free tickets with their UCard, thanks to the Arts Pass program. Find other ticketing and parking information here.