Dancing at Lughnasa story of five sisters rural in 1936 Donegal

Citizens run marks 21st anniversary of Brian Friel's hit play

Dancing at Lughnasa story of five sisters rural in 1936 Donegal

When The Original Theatre Company’s version of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa arrives at the Citizens Theatre in April, it will mark the 21st anniversary of its very first performance. ‘We hope that’s it’s going to really speak to people in Glasgow,’ says director Alastair Whatley. ‘I suppose it’s something in your bones, that Celtic feeling. The play speaks to people in a much stronger sense if you do have that connection.’

Set in rural Donegal in 1936, it focuses on the lives of five unmarried sisters as remembered by their grown-up nephew Michael. ‘They’re based on Friel’s own aunts,’ Whatley explains, ‘so it’s tinged with a real poignancy. It’s a memory play and it raises all sorts of fascinating questions about what a memory is, how truthful they can be and how important they are at shaping our lives.’

Ultimately, it’s the play’s emotional power that has made it such a popular hit: ‘The sisters don’t give into their difficult situation,’ Whatley says. ‘They laugh and get by and I think people resonate with that – and increasingly so.’

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 19–Sat 23 Apr

Dancing at Lughnasa

Brian Friel's Olivier Award winning play about life in a remote part of Ireland in the 1930s, focusing on the lives and loves of five sisters, told from the perspective of their brother Michael. Production by Theatre Alba.


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