Dancing at Lughnasa 2011 Purdue Theatre
By Brian Friel | Directed by Justine Mazuy | Set Design by Kyle Hagemier | Lighting Design by Stewart Showalter
We considered many elements in approaching the conceptual sound design for Dancing at Lughnasa. The entire play takes place in the narrator Michael’s memory. We see the world of the play through the lens of memory and through the eyes of a man who witnessed these events many years in the past. Michael’s reflections bring new meaning to these distant memories. Sound plays a major role in revealing Michael’s emotionally affected memory that may or may not be grounded in fact. For example, his aunts dance around the kitchen table to Irish folk music playing on the radio. The dance becomes a Pagan ritual with pounding and persistent percussion resonating somewhere inside their very souls. In another exmple Father Jack taps a stick to tribal rhythms that he hears in his mind. The tribal rhythms he taps allow Michael (and the audience) to more fundamentally understand Father Jack’s religious transformation.
The physical radio serves a dual purpose. First, it brings the outside world of the1930’s to the aunts. But on a deeper level, the radio also becomes Michael’s anchor in this world of memory and factual fog, allowing Michael to honestly and intimately share his experiences with the audience.