Dancing at Lughnasa Press Release – We open soon!

Media Contacts:
Mike Horyczun,203.254.4000,ext.2647,mhoryczun@fairfield.edu Margaret Greene, margaret.greene@student.fairfield.edu

Theatre Fairfield dances into new performance season with Brian Friel classic Award-winning “Dancing at Lughnasa” takes center stage at Regina A. Quick Center’s Wien Experimental Theatre, October 29 – November 2, 2014

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 15, 2014). Theatre Fairfield, Fairfield University’s resident production company, opens its 2014-2015 season with the award-winning play “Dancing at Lughnasa,” by Irish playwright and author Brian Friel. Performances take place at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts’ Wien Black Box Theatre, at 8 p.m. Wed. through Sat., Oct. 29-Nov. 1; and at 2 p.m. on Sat. and Sun., Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. Tickets are $12 general admission, $6 for seniors and university staff, and $5 for students.

Loosely based on Brian Friel’s own life, “Dancing at Lughnasa” is a memory play that takes place in the small Irish village Balleybeg during the summer of 1936. For years, the five Mundy sisters have gone about their mundane lives living from one day to the next. However, with the return of their older brother and the subsequent visit of a handsome face from the past, the sisters’ world begins to crumble around them. Through Irish step dancing and joyful and thrilling music brought by an old-fashioned radio, this play reminds its audiences that the human spirit and passion can endure even the toughest of times. “Dancing at Lughnasa” won London’s prestigious Olivier Award for Best Play in 1991 followed by several Tony Awards when it came to Broadway in 1992. It was made into a film adaptation starring Meryl Streep in 1998. “Theatre Fairfield chose ‘Lughnasa’ as an active collaboration with the Irish Studies Program on campus and the large Gaelic-American population in Fairfield County,” said Dr. Martha S. LoMonaco, Fairfield University Professor of Theatre and Co-Producer and Resident Director, Theatre Fairfield. “It is an especially wonderful choice for performers eager to challenge themselves by playing characters who speak in Irish dialect and also sing and step-dance. The show will be a veritable feast for the eyes and ears.” Bringing this show to life in Fairfield are New York City guest artists Tom Schwans, who is directing, and Jaclyn Meloni, the Scenic Designer. The artistic team is completed with Theatre Fairfield regulars Lynne Chase as Lighting Designer, Julie Leavitt as Costume Designer, Brian Kelly as Sound Designer, and Mary Paul as Technical Director.

The cast includes, Franco Luzzi ’15 (Michael) from New Haven, CT; Aubrey Sierer ’16 (Kate) from Bridgeport, CT; Katie Gillette ’15 (Maggie) from Woodbury, CT; Maggie Greene ’15 (Agnes) from Portland, OR; Jessica Lizotte ’18 (Rose) from Sandwich, MA; Grace Schiller ’17 (Chris) from Holliston, MA,; Alec Bandzes ’15 (Gerry) from Middlefield, CT; and Brendan Freeman ’15 (Jack) from Shrewsbury, MA.

Fairfield University’s theatre program, part of the Department of Visual & Performing Arts within the College of Arts and Sciences, offers students a liberal arts education that marries theory and practice by way of its on-stage theatre laboratory. Theatre Fairfield produces at least four major productions every year and serves as a platform for community engagement as well as a professional learning environment. The next production in the season is “Directors Cut,” an extravaganza of one-act plays directed and designed by advanced theatre students, opening at the PepsiCo Theatre December 4, 2014.

Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-
free 1-877-ARTS-396. (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at www.quickcenter.com.

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center for audience members and performers. Hearing amplification devices are available upon request at the Box Office. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate-95.

For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit www.quickcenter.com

Fairfield University offers its students and the regional community a wide array of opportunities to enjoy the arts and enrich their lives through study, performance, appreciation, and thought. The annual Arts & Minds season of events at Fairfield provides an outstanding array of cultural and intellectual events that include the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts season, the popular Open VISIONS Forum lecture series, professional and student performances, art exhibits, special lectures, and a myriad of other lifelong learning opportunities. For further information, visit www.fairfield.edu/arts.

### Vol. 47, #87

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Dancing at Lughnasa tickets are on sale NOW!

Tickets for our upcoming production of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa are on sale NOW at the Quick Center Box Office! Pick them up in-person, online, or over the phone before they sell out!

Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010 | quickcenter.com
General Admission: $12; Senior Citizens and Faculty/Staff: $6; Students: $5

 

Dancing at Lughnasa opens in the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Quick Center for the Arts on October 29th and runs through November 2nd.

Don’t miss out on a beautiful production!

Grace Schiller('17) and Alec Bandzes ('15) as Chris and Gerry in the upcoming production.

Grace Schiller (’17) and Alec Bandzes (’15) as Chris and Gerry in the upcoming production.

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Check out Theatre Fairfield’s exciting 2014-15 Season!

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“Theatre Fairfield’s Measure for Measure: Intense, Complex, Well-Acted” A Review by Dr. William Abbott

The following is a review of Measure for Measure, written by Dr. William Abbott, an esteemed professor of history at Fairfield University. Read on to hear Dr. Abbott’s thoughts on Theatre Fairfield’s most recent production!

Theatre Fairfield performed William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure  in the Pepsico Theatre from April 10th through the 15th, and if you didn’t get down to see it you missed a superb performance of one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known but fascinating plays.   As the play’s director Dr. Martha S. Lomonaco pointed out in the playbill, Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” in which we do not see happy endings all around, but instead are left “feeling queasy, vaguely unsatisfied, and unsure of our response.”    Like life itself, this most realistic of Shakespeare’s comedies features a range of internally-conflicted characters who are neither villains nor heroes, but ordinary people caught up in the web of their own foibles and errors, and working their way through them as best they can.  The ten actors were thus faced with the challenge of expressing internal conflict via bodily motion and facial expression as well as speech, and they rose to it well.

The minimalist set resembled a gritty New York subway station, with graffiti all over the walls, and each act began with the characters dancing to violent choreography and punk rock.  Putting Shakespeare into a modern setting can be risky, but it worked well here because of the relatively dark and violent nature of the play.  There is no outright violence in Measure for Measure:  no duels, riots, or murders, but the relationships between the characters are highly stressful, and so the dancing had to bring this out.  The costuming of the lower-class characters naturally featured the punk styles of the 1970s-80s, with some Mohawk hairdos and safety-pinned shirts.   The upper-class characters were attired in what looked like Victorian-era suits, but not quite; the costumers wished to avoid identifying with a specific time period.

The colorful 32-page playbill, created by dramaturg Emily Skudrzyk (’14), is worth keeping for more than just memories: in it you get a free lesson in all of the theatre arts, from set production to costuming, staging, rehearsal, direction, and historical background.   You need it, too, for like most of Shakespeare’s comedies, Measure for Measure has a lower-class story arc that intersects with an upper-class one, and six of the ten cast members had at least one role in each social class, while four of them had one in each gender.  It was thus to their credit as actors (to say nothing of their ability to change costumes quickly) that we see Veronique Poutre portraying the sternly moralistic councilor Escalus and also the drunken villain Barnardine; Brendan McNamara the fiery brothelkeeper Mistress Overdone, the mild Friar Thomas, and the brutal jailer Abhorson; Mary Louise Corigliano the kindly Mariana and the witless constable Elbow; Tori Schuchmann the pregnant gentlewoman Juliet and also the quick-witted and outrageous tapster Pompey; and Brigid Callahan the cynical gentleman Lucio, the harmless young man Froth, and the dry-as-dust Messenger.

The heroine Isabella and the villain Angelo are at the two ends of the play’s moral spectrum, but even they show some of the ambivalence that characterizes the rest of the dramatis personae.   Ashley Ruggiero’s Isabella is a forceful character rather than a gentle one, who shows tremendous passion as well; her appeal speech was magnificent.  Even Isabella, however, has some hesitation about her decisions, and Ruggieri brought this out; the quiet nun does not want to be heroic, but is forced into the role.   Franco Luzzi’s Angelo is a satisfyingly cruel and villainous hypocrite, but unlike Othello’s Iago or King Lear’s Cornwall, who are self-consciously evil, Angelo is blind within his puritanism, thinking himself on the side of righteousness.  As Luzzi shows in the soliloquy and elsewhere, Angelo undergoes considerable internal struggle, and is often torn by doubt.

As we move towards the middle of the moral spectrum, the characters’ internal conflicts and contradictions are more manifest.   Alex Mongillo had the difficult task of playing one of the good guys who is nonetheless far from being a hero.  Claudio is a victim but also a victimizer, as he has not only left Juliet pregnant but, to save his own life, urges Isabella to violate her honor by acceding to Angelo’s demand.  Mongillo was good as a vacillator: initially agreeing with Isabella’s steadfastness, but then caving in to his own fears.   Escalus starts the play as a clerkly councilor and judge, far more honorable than Angelo because he can question the morality of a too-strict law enforcement, but Veronique Poutre’s characterization also makes him a passionate figure, as his quiet countenance on occasion breaks out into shouting.  The arrogant, bawdy, and occasionally-callous Lucio is, on the face of it, an unattractively Machiavellian character, but Brigid Callahan played him with charm and sympathy; we like him in spite of ourselves, particularly when he is revealing the disguised Duke’s reputation to himself, and we detest the Duke all the more at the end of the play for the punishment he visits on Lucio.  And the Duke: ah, yes.   How many politicians have we seen like him?  Too clever by half, intelligent but naïve, manipulative but ineffective; as rulers go, we almost prefer the villainous Angelo to this incompetent jerk.   Owen Corey started him off as a fairly straight-up, if pompous, character, but as the play went on and the Duke became an ever more duplicitous plotter, Corey’s hunched-over Friar Lodowick made him almost as villainous as Angelo.  When Corey sheds the cassock and straightens up as the Duke, it is clear that he has not learned anything from his experiences; in his lack of that humility that is necessary for growth, he is the same bungler who started the play.  Corey did well with what is possibly the most difficult role in the play.

The lower-class characters, louder and less controlled than the swells, were also more over-the-top physically.  Mary Louise Corigliano’s Elbow was a beautifully stupid cop, at times appearing almost as drunk as Barnardine.  Later, Corigliano’s weeping appeal as Mariana was the single most moving moment in the play.   As law-enforcement officers go, Alex Kimble’s provost was an excellent contrast to Corigliano’s Elbow: the latter blindly following the law come what may; the former disliking his job and bending the rules where possible, but nevertheless willing to carry out bad orders if he has to.   Kimble needed to show that regret, and did so.  (To me, Kimble’s costume resembled that of a Cuban revolutionary, but I was apparently mistaken).

I loved Pompey’s (Tori Schuchmann’s) conversation with Poutre’s Escalus: the classic clash of stern justice with wild freedom, with Schuchmann’s insolence often carrying the day.  Schuchmann’s Pompey could have stepped right in from Southwark, that wild-west frontier of London with its outside-the-law alehouses and brothels.   Probably the funniest character was Brendan McNamara’s brothelkeeper Mistress Overdone, complete with high heels and fish-net stockings.  Theatre Fairfield has frequently put women in men’s roles in its Shakespeare productions, but they have seldom gone the other way.  McNamara had the audience in stitches.

All of the actors delivered their lines with crisp intensity.  The dynamic variation was limited, with voice levels going only from mezzo-forte to fortissimo.  Given the intimacy of the Pepsico, I could have wished for some truly quiet conversations between the characters, but the theater’s noisy exhaust fan precluded that.  Facial expressions plus the diction, however, made the lines easy to understand.

    Kudos to Theatre Fairfield, for presenting one of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays with subtlety and force.

William Abbott

Department of History

 

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Measure for Measure Program!

  All you need to know in just one click!

Coming April 10-15 at the PepsiCo Theatre

 

We have prepared a wonderfully rich program to help our audiences be better prepared for our upcoming production of Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE, opening at the PepsiCo Theatre on Thursday, April 10 and running through Tuesday, April 15, for 7 performances (April 10-11 and 13-15 at 8 PM and April 12-13 at 2 PM). Production dramaturg, Emily Skudrzyk, ’14, has compiled our detailed program, which includes photo essays on how and why we made our production “punk” and the historical research we conducted to help us better understand Shakespeare’s play as a product of his time. You will receive a printed version of this program when you come to the show but we are providing this digital version for you in advance, as a preview of coming attractions. We have many faculty and students coming to see the play so, hopefully, this will help in and outside of class. We also hope to attract new audience members (you?) who will read this and be intrigued enough to come see our “Shakespeare As Punk” production of MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

 

Please enjoy this advance version of the playbill and then buy tickets by calling the Quick Center Box office at 1-877-ARTS-396. Tickets are $5 for students, $6 for seniors and university staff, and $12 for the general public.

 

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