David Ward: In the National Library of Ireland, a trove of notes shed light on Brian Friel’s development of his famous autobiographical play. One possible answer is Friel’s use of myth and metaphor (2). Transformation through dance (3) is the ritual that occurs in Dancing at Lughnasa (4). Resonant . It is and harvest time in County Donegal. In a house just outside the village of Ballybeg live the five Mundy sisters, barely making ends meet, their ages.

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A radio nicknamed ” Marconi “, which works only intermittently, brings s dance and traditional Irish folk music into the home at rather random moments and then, equally randomly, ceases to play. Ill storyteller and thereby introduces a totally different style of theatre from that previously used. Friel uses the myth of Lugh and his associated celebratory dance in an expanded semiotics of dancjng association, sustained throughout the play in an organising scheme, embedded in the play, apparently a family narrative-history, Dancing at Lughnasa.

For this reason it does not have to cohere between the narrative and enacted episodes, as suggested by Dantanus and O’Brien, since overall it is a record of flux, consciously admitted to and selected by the narrator.

Lugjnasa music broadcast from Athlone 24according to Kate Mundy, is ‘pagan’ and has ‘killed all Christian conversation in [the] country’ DL, p. For the play, see Dancing at Lughnasa.


Moreover, the narrator has disclosed the emblem, the means and the manner whereby such disintegration takes place: Repression is rebelled against and expressed speechlessly but physically joyously by the women’s intermittent eruptions into dance.

This separation demonstrates, by contrast, the difference between the play’s two competing world-views, Christian and pagan.

It is significant that initially, in the first dance, Kate resists joining in but finally succumbs to the dance, expressing her own containment but ‘alone, totally concentrated, totally private; a movement that is simultaneously controlled and frantic’, ritualizing her repressions in the lughnaas, alone DL, p.


Elle fond une dialectique entre le conscient et l’inconscient, entre les vies des femmes et les forces que Lugh symbolise. She is bbrian even a reincarnated Cathleen ni Houlihoun, only a vassal shadow. The casting is perfect. Stepping once again behind the ideological mask, she disperses the women back to their allotted tasks.

Dancing at Lughnasa – Wikipedia

And, because Christina has been the greatest offender against ‘Christian’ proprieties, she eventually has to pay the gravest reparation. Dance is one of the xt themes of the play. If recognised and embraced, it can enable the women to challenge and escape the boundaries of ideological containment. The play’s brooding Chekhovian ethos of stasis and disintegration, of being and becoming, is apparently explicated around the summer of and the festival of La Lughnasa but, exploded by two visits from an antic outsider, a Welshman, Gerry Evans.

Consequently her sisters are faced with a choice; either they can dance or stand still.

Brian Friel, Irish drama, adaptation, film, reception, nostalgia, modernity, globalisation, postmodern condition, pastoral trope. Family life brixn make-believe — remembering and remaking the past — betrayal — groping towards love. In some respects their lives are a lament for all those who had to leave Ireland and have lost contact with the rhythms and forces of that country She driel his every favourable reference to the ‘efficient [Ryangan] commune where everybody helps everybody else and cares for broan DL, pp.

Pagan circular dances, like present-day European folk dances, signified the concept of equality and inextricable union between the male and female principle.

This is best for all. Everything the viewer need know about Kate Mundy, the woman she plays here, is written on that prim, lonely face and its flabbergasted gaze.

Dancing at Lughnasa – Brian Friel

Kearney, ed The Irish Mind: Virtually at the outset of the play, the liminal biran rhythms of Lughnasa open up the first major fissure threatening this family. He recounts the summer in his aunts’ cottage when he was seven years old. Author Biography Mireia Aragay. The Dancer or the Dance? This existence is only intermittently leavened by humour, the occasional Wild Woodbine and lughnaza pathetic faith in a church which maintains that suffering is good for the soul.


In this context, the polygamous Ryangan family functions as a joyous contrast and alternative where secular and sacred cohere imperceptibly. In effect, it signals that Ballybeg has ‘ gone-Ryan lughnasz and is, therefore, due for change, possibly transformation, possibly collapse.

Kate represents the axiom that the unquestioned tradition can nurture or oppress.

The play describes a bitter dancinh for the Mundy sisters, a time of reaping what has been sown. Fragments and the fragmented body are the very dynamics of Irish existence. He is a travelling salesman who sells gramophones. But as the women recognise the boundaries they have crossed, they retreat and return to their daily routines.

Dancing at Lughnasa: the evolution of a masterpiece, step by step | Stage | The Guardian

In its structural aspects, the play is thematically very close to Joyce particularly Finnegans Wake and Synge particularly The Playboy of the Western World. In addition, it possibly foregrounds a central paradox of damcing and globalisation, namely, the fact that a refusal of nostalgia is inevitably coupled with its ‘other’, i.

Andrea Fletcher, faced with the difficult task of playing Chris, the unmarried mother who must, over and lyghnasa, almost believe the charming lies of the usually absent Gerry, perfectly embodies the all too human tendency to believe in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.