Apr 13, 2023

Dordt's Theatre Arts Program to perform "Dancing at Lughnasa" on April 26-29

The Dordt University Theatre Arts Department will present “Dancing at Lughnasa,” directed by Professor of Theatre Arts Dr. Teresa Ter Haar, at the Fourth Avenue Theatre at Dordt University on Wednesday, April 26 through Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m., as well as on Saturday, April 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at https://dordt.ticketleap.com/.

“Dancing at Lughnasa” tells the story of five unmarried sisters who live in a small village in Ireland in 1936. The story is shared from the perspective of a child of one of the sisters. In 1936, the sisters acquire a radio, which opens them up to dance as well as romance and hope of the world at large. Their brother, a priest, returns after spending 25 years as a missionary in a Ugandan leper colony. Also, the young child meets their father for the first time. These events irreparably change the family.

“Dancing at Lughnasa” is a beautifully crafted play that unfolds gradually and subtly, says Ter Haar. “The story is both joy-filled and wrenching at the same time. Playwright Brian Friel, a master at his craft, uses this principle of contrast throughout his writing, both thematically and in the development of the characters. I was looking for a piece that would present the actors with challenging characters to portray, and Friel’s ability to write multi-faceted characters fit this goal.”

Senior Sommer Schaap, who plays Christina Mundy, has loved being part of the cast and being able to see the character work and development that has gone into building rich relationships with her fellow performers’ characters.

“I hope the audience sees the beauty of human lives and the nostalgia that memories hold, as well as how those memories affect us today,” she says. “I hope they see the love in the family as well as the tensions and mundaneness of their lives, yet also how there is so much joy and heart through it all as seen in the dancing, singing, and memories of a child.”

Professor of Theatre Arts Laurel Koerner, who serves as scenic designer and dialect coach, has enjoyed the opportunity to coach the actors in developing the Irish dialect. “This dialect is a challenging one, and there are many easily found resources that can lead an actor to a lackluster and stereotyping product,” she says. “The students have been very diligent about crafting a sound authentic to the region the play is set in, balanced with clarity for audience ears that may be unfamiliar with it.”

Ter Haar is excited about the designers and their work. “Both faculty and student designers have collaborated effectively to create a world that supports the unique memory structure of the production,” she says. “I can’t wait for the audience to experience the set, props, lighting, costumes, and sound.”

The play is a bittersweet look backward, adds Koerner. “I think our audiences will appreciate the humor and bursts of joy, as well as recognize the deeply felt disappointment and heartbreak that can accompany life’s unfolding. These are wonderfully lively characters that are easy to see ourselves and our loved ones in.”

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers