Dancing at Lughnasa

April 17, 2014

UK-based scenic designers Max Jones and Colin Richmond both designed "Dancing at Lughnasa," Irish playwright Brian Friel's swan song.  Their comments are instructive:

 

"The scenic requirements for ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ are at face value relatively straightforward… a composite environment containing the kitchen of an Irish country cottage, a small area of garden outside and an old sycamore tree. The difficulty however is to create a performance environment that isn’t too heavily defined by architecture… a space where the women in the piece are able dance, free from any of the restrictions that visual thresholds might impose.

 

Our solution was to ‘flash flood’ the main stage with a vast landscape. By manipulating a number of steeply raked stage levels we were able to create a both fluid and yet sculptural response to this naturalistic environment. Again the theatre itself plays a part in shaping the landscape… as the grass floods in through a portal upstage, spilling down the rake, through the proscenium and out into the auditorium. The grass covers everything… blurring the thresholds between interior and exterior.

 

This really now is a ‘memory play’… where our narrator can evoke through storytelling the ghosts of the past. Petrified in time, the ruins of the old cottage wall and sycamore tree should feel as though they have been excavated from the proscenium walls and partially buried relics such as the old stove can now exist in both the narrators past and present.”

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