September 17, 2014  

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Southern Miss Theatre to Present Brian Friel's "Dancing at Lughnasa"

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The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Theatre will open the spring semester season Friday, Feb. 22 with Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa. The play is the final Creative Project for director Alicia Hanley, a master’s of fine arts directing student at Southern Miss.

“Directing Dancing at Lughnasa is my final culminating project on which I am writing my thesis, and I have kept logs of the process from start to finish,” Hanley said. 

Set in Ireland’s County Donegal, Dancing at Lughnasa recounts a young man’s distant memories of the love he experienced as a child of seven years old, and the hopes, fears and joys that surrounded him over the course of the summer of 1936. Now, as a young man, his growing awareness of that formative period in his life begins to give new meaning to those childhood memories. “It is not the literal past, the ‘facts’ of history, that shape us” says Friel, “but images of the past….”

When Dancing at Lughnasa first premiered on Broadway in 1991, it was nominated for an unprecedented eight Tony awards. This was the first time in the history of these awards that a new play had received this many nominations. It eventually won three of those awards, one of which was the Tony for Best Play.

Friel is widely considered to be the finest English language dramatist writing today. Often regarded as the “Irish Chekhov,’” Friel’s plays speak for generations of modern Irish experience. However, the playwright’s Irish origins can obscure broader themes in his plays such as myth and history, family and memory, and language and its limits.

Today, Dancing at Lughnasa continues to move audiences with its poignancy, compassion and authenticity, and Hanley has thoroughly enjoyed directing this production.

“I didn’t ask for Dancing at Lughnasa, but I fell in love with the characters and how Friel chose to reveal them.  It’s quite fascinating.”

Showtimes are Feb. 22, 23, 27, 28 and March 1, 2 at 7:30 pm and Feb. 24 and March 3 at 2 p.m.  Reserved seat tickets are $14 for public; $10 for faculty, staff, seniors, and military and $8 for students. The play will be held in the Martha R. Tatum Theatre in the Theatre and Dance Building.

For more information, contact the Department of Theatre at 601.266.4994. To order tickets, go to www.southernmisstickets.com or call 1.800.844.8425.