Basic Information

By Leah Flowers
24 March 2024

Play Title                   Dancing at Lughnasa

Playwright                 Brian Friel

Original Director      Patrick Mason

First Performed        24 April 1990, The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland

Notable Perf.             11 October 1991, Plymouth Theatre, New York, USA

Setting                        August 1936; Ballybeg, County Donegal, Ireland

Play Structure           Climactic

Play Style                   Chekhovian

Awards                   1992    Drama Desk Award – Outstanding Director of a Play

1992    Drama Desk Award – Outstanding Ensemble Performance

1992    New York Drama Critics’ Circle – Best Play

1992    Outer Critics Circle – Outstanding Broadway Play

1992    Outer Critics Circle – Outstanding Director

1992    Theatre World Awards – Theatre World Special Award

1992    Tony Award – Best Direction of a Play

1992    Tony Award – Best Featured Actress in a Play, Brid Brennan

1992    Tony Award – Best Play (“Dancing at Lughnasa” Playbill)

Reviews

“Quietly vivid […] it’s through dancing that these lonely women express what they would never dare say, perhaps wouldn’t even know how to articulate.”

– Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“The play’s roiling undercurrents – of melancholy, frustration, romantic longing, repressed primal urges – still resonate.”

– David Rooney, The New York Times

“As the women dance and dance through their house and out to their farmyard, they are dancing not just for themselves but for centuries of women who have triumphed over sad bleak times.”

– Maeve Binchy, playwright

Illuminating Quotes from the Play

“In that memory atmosphere is more real than incident and everything is simultaneously actual and illusory.”

“I had witnessed Marconi’s voodoo derange those kind, sensible women and transform them into shrieking strangers.”

 “[T]he whole of Donegal was proud of [Father Jack] – it was only natural that our family would enjoy a small share of that fame – it gave us a little bit of status in the eyes of the parish. And it must have helped my aunts bear the shame Mother brought on the household by having me – as it was called then – out of wedlock.”

Sources:

  1. Binchy, Maeve. “The Magnificent Mundy Girls.” Sony Pictures Classics, 1998, https://www.sonyclassics.com/dancingatlughnasa/filmmakers/thoughts/t-binchy.html.
  2. “Dancing at Lughnasa.” Playbill, Playbill Inc, https://playbill.com/production/dancing-at-lughnasa-plymouth-theatre-vault-0000009559.
  3. Friel, Brian. Dancing at Lughnasa. Dramatists Play Service Inc., 1991.
  4. Gardner, Lyn. “Dancing at Lughnasa – review.” The Guardian, Guardian News & Media Ltd., 4 June 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/jun/04/dancing-at-lughnasa-review.
  5. Rooney, David. “Rosy Nostalgia and Sharp Reality Entwine in a Potent Jig.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 1 November 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/theater/reviews/dancing-at-lughnasa-at-irish-repertory-theater-review.html.