Thursday, December 13, 2012


Hello everyone! We are incredibly pleased to announce that our production has been selected to travel and present at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region III this January in Saginaw, MI! We couldn't be more thrilled. To raise funds for our trip, we've added two benefit performances to take place this Friday (12/14) and Saturday (12/15). We could greatly use your help and support! Please contact the box office for ticket information.

After we close our extended run, we will be busy prepping, packing, and planning to take Ballybeg to Saginaw! Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. We cannot wait to continue telling this story.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We've opened!

Thank you so much to all patrons who were able to join us in the opening weekend of Dancing at Lughnasa! We had a preview night on Thursday, November 29th. There was a small audience, and we were very pleased to welcome the American College Theatre Festival respondents for their critique of our performance. Since then, we've had four very successful runs. In this next week, we still have five more performances to go! Remember to get your tickets at the UW-Parkside Box Office, or online at their webpage. 

But as we move on, whether you already saw the show or have yet to see it, here are some study questions for further thought. 

  • How do the conflicts of Catholic and Pagan beliefs resonate in the Mundy household? Is there a middle ground wherein a person could have values that attend to both points of view? Today, we still see an abundance of conflicting life and creation beliefs/concepts. If you have experienced them, how are/were they managed in your own experience? Do you think that the Mundy sisters met in an agreement on this matter, before their unfortunate dividing?
  • Rose's defiance against Kate and the rest of her sisters in Act II represents a lot of the happenings during the traditional Festival of Lughnasa (including traveling to the back hills, gathering bilberries, and releasing repressed sexuality). Do you feel that this event helped the sisters progress into a new state of mind about their lifestyle and values, or do you think it only reinforced their original beliefs? Do you think that each sister developed her own perception, or do you believe they essentially functioned as a unit?
  • Do you believe there is an underlying conflict (perhaps something from the past) between Jack and Kate? Could their divided war efforts be a cause of tension between them?
  • What does the radio, Marconi, symbolize to you?
  • The dance in Act I is a vibrant release of repressed energy, aggression, enthusiasm, and desire. As soon as the music cuts out and the sisters realize what they have just done, they quickly conform to a state of normality (and possibly embarrassment). Why do you think this is?
  • There are a lot of clues about Gerry's past life that are given not only in his dialogue, but in the language of the other characters as well. Is there anything that isn't specifically noted in the text that you found/believe to be a discovery, either about him or any of the others?
  • While the character paints a vivid portrait of this particular summer of his childhood, Michael's memory does have some pieces that fade away. Reflect on your own childhood, and think of a memory of yours that you hope never drifts from your mind. 

We thank you again for joining us, and we hope to see more of you this weekend for our final five shows!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Bit About the Author

Hello Everyone!

Here at Parkside, we're well on our way into our tech rehearsals. The designers, actors, and crew members had a long weekend of incorporating the technical elements into the show. At this very moment, they are running (and rocking!) their first full dress rehearsal. 

As we draw nearer to opening day, I thought it would be nice to share some information about the playwright with all of you! 

Brian Friel was born in January of 1929 in County Tyrone. Living in Northern Ireland for all of his upbringing, he was raised with both Catholic and Nationalists beliefs. While his family believed in the progress that Ireland and Great Britain could achieve together, Friel (being a separatist) had higher hopes for the people and tradition of Ireland while standing on its own. 

He became a schoolteacher at the age of 21, filling his free time with the writing of short stories and radio dramas. Ten short years later, he quit his profession and pursued the art of playwriting full-time. He rose to the top quickly and completed several successful works, one right after the other. His plays, in only the first decade of his theatrical career, were performed at prestigious theatres and festivals, given delightful reviews, and awarded Friel with a Tony Award nomination. Soon after, his plays started to be produced internationally. Although a strong Irish nationalism prevails in all of his works, the characters and plots make his stories globally resonant. 

But that isn't all. Friel is a co-founder of the Field Day Theatre (Derry, Ireland), a winner of Laurence Olivier, Tony, and NY Drama Critics Circle awards, an elected member of the Irish Academy of Letters, and more. 

His immeasurable work and never-ending dedication makes him a true legacy of the theatre. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speaking of painting the set...

Here are some sneak peaks at our AMAZING scenic design by faculty member and professional designer, Jody Sekas!

The walls of our play will each bear a tree. This plan for one of the trees involves a backdrop of clouds behind a collection of picture frames that hold the image of a tree. 

The lines and patterns in the floor elevation are made to represent a traditional Celtic Knot.

We're inching closer and closer to opening day. As we move forward, keep checking in for more updates and previews before seeing the show! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dancing in the past, present, and future.

Hello followers! Did you know that the film version of Dancing at Lughnasa was released 14 years ago today? This screenplay, written by Frank McGuinness and directed by Pat O'Connor, premiered on November 13, 1998. The movie starred Meryl Streep (Kate), Kathy Burke (Maggie), and Michael Gambon (Jack), amongst others. Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun Times (and a screenwriter himself), noted that while the film's performance had strong efforts, seeing the story on the stage was more moving for him. The review in full can be found at: Roger Ebert - Sun Times - Dancing at Lughnasa Film Review.

Here at Parkside, we're busy pulling costumes, painting the set, and rehearsing scenes and dances. We absolutely cannot wait to share our performance with you! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lighting Design Inspiration

Our next addition to our blog and our production development includes beautiful research for our lighting design, compiled by designer Chris Payne!

One of the design aspects that Chris is focusing on is the juxtaposition between past and present/future. You can see in his research that he is pulling a lot of ideas from nature and organic lighting/shadowing for the "past" or memory moments, whereas the present/future is defined by stark and angular lights and shadows.

Past: The MEMORY

Present/Future: The NEW AGE

Monday, November 5, 2012

Versatility in the Black Box Theatre

Our Black Box Studio Theatre, which had its grand opening in February of this past year with the production of Great Expectations, allocates endless creativity to the entire production team. The seating can be rearranged for each individual production, which provides us with many possibilities in planning for our shows. For Dancing at Lughnasa, we are incorporating a new seating arrangement that we've never used before! This setting is a "traverse" style, which almost looks similar to a tennis court. It allows for fresh perspectives while blocking and developing scenes within the play. Additionally, it provides exciting challenges for working on scenic, lighting, and sound design! Below is a copy of the Ground Plan, designed and created by our Scenic Designer, Jody Sekas. We are so thrilled to see how this new arrangement works in our Black Box Theatre, and we hope you are, too!