Friday, February 14, 2014

Old Vic director partners with CofC for Dancing at Lughnasa

An Irish Tale with a British Twist

Posted by Rebecca Stanley on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 10:31 AM

click to enlarge lughnasa-pic.jpg
The Irish have had it rough. Economic hardship, religious tension, and family drama seem to be the center of all stories, histories, and movies to come out of the Emerald Isle. And Brain Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa is no different.

Written in 1990, the play is a semi-autobiographical story about the Mundy sisters. The Irish gals live a life full of hardship, dancing, and harvest in the 1930s and when their brother Jack returns home faithless after decades of missionary work, the good Catholic girls must try to cope with their brother's rejection of the priesthood. Friel has been called "The Irish Checkov," and Lughnasa is widely considered one of his best plays. The College of Charleston's theater department partners with The Bristol Old Vic Theatre to bring the show to Charleston, which is kind of a big deal.  

The Bristol-based Old Vic, one of the most prestigious theaters in the world, has been the starting point for Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeremy Irons, Gene Wilder, and even Captain Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart. Old Vic's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was a Spoleto Festival USA 2013 highlight, and the Old Vic staged a revival of Lughnasa in 2009 to critical acclaim.

Miranda Cromwell, the director of the Old Vic's Young Company, is on hand to direct CofC's version of the Tony Award-winning Lughnasa. In addition to working for Old Vic, Cromwell also has her own theater company, Twisted Theatre, and recently won awards for artistic leadership. Cromwell has been excited to work with CofC students. "I have been hugely impressed with the way in which the students are so involved in all aspects of the process of creating and building this production," says Cromwell. "It has been a total privilege to collaborate with this college to bring this beautiful play to life."
The students she has been so impressed by are cast members Avery Cole, Caroline Connell, Julia Hooks, Gregory Mangieri, Sadia Matthews, Margaret Nyland, Peter Spearman, and Cameron Tubbs. Christian Crum, Corinne Williams, Cierra Tinnell, Charlie Calvert, and Alexia Sosa are the technical director, stage manager, costume designer, scenic designer, and lighting designer, respectively. 

A special preview showing of Friel's play will take place on Wed. Feb. 19 at 6:45 p.m. at the Simons Center. Guests are invited to a pre-ception before the show and a reception with the actors and staff after the show. Regular stagings will run Feb. 20-22, 24-25 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For more info, visit

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