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Pre-July 2009 Press Archives

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3/18/2003 Linfield hosts “Dancing at Lughnasa”

McMINNVILLE – Linfield students will present the Irish story "Dancing at Lughnasa," a play by Brian Friel, April 10-12 and 16-18 in the Linfield College Pioneer Theatre.

Set in Ireland in 1936, this play is the story of five unmarried sisters living in a small cottage in the county of Donegal. The play unfolds during the festival of Lughnasa, which celebrates the pagan god of the harvest with revelry and dancing. Their spare existence is brightened by brief colorful bursts of music from their radio, the only link to romance and hope from the world outside of their village.

The story is told through the memory of Jack, the illegitimate son of one of the sisters, as he remembers the five women who raised him. He is portrayed in the play as an older man looking back at the time spent with his mother and four aunts. The character is played by Jim Diamond, professor of chemistry at Linfield. This is the first time a non-theatre faculty member has taken part in a production at Linfield, said Janet Gupton, assistant director of theatre.

Diamond has been involved with the theatre department as a student for two years and was encouraged by Gupton to participate.

“I felt that Jim could add a lot to the production because of his Irish Catholic upbringing and also his interaction with the students outside of the classroom,” Gupton said.

According to Gupton, the major challenges of the play, for the actors, were the mastery of the Irish dialect and the essence of the Irish psyche that is rooted in their sense of place.

Jack is only seven in 1936, the year his elderly uncle, a priest, returns after serving as a missionary for 25 years in a Ugandan leper colony. For the young boy it is a year of changes, his mother and aunts acquire their first radio, which transforms them from correct Catholic women into shrieking, stomping banshees within the cottage, and he meets his father for the first time, a charming Welsh drifter who strolls up the lane and sweeps his mother away in an elegant dance across the field in the village. From these events spring the cracks that destroy the foundation of the family.

All performances are at 8 p.m. in Pioneer Hall, and run approximately two hours. Tickets are $5 for general admission and $4 for Linfield students, faculty and staff. For more information, call 503-883-2292 or e-mail