Prior to the opening of Quotidian Theatre Company’s next play, Brian Friel’s Irish drama Dancing at Lughnasa, several actors in the cast will be writing here about various experiences they have during the rehearsal process.
Here’s our first Lughnasa blog entry, courtesy of Quotidian regular David Dubov, who’s portraying the narrator of the play, Michael Evans.
So. Michael Evans!
Wait, wait, wait. Before I plunge into the deep, warm pool that is this character, let me tell you a bit of behind-the-scenes stuff.
Because you want to know, right?
The last time Craig Mummey and I worked together was four years ago at Silver Spring Stage on The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh. We kept meaning to do a project together again after Cripple was a success, but it never quite worked out. And now, here we are — and I, for one, am thrilled to be working with one of my favorite directors again.
Anyway. Michael Evans!
It is fascinating to look at this role which, on its surface, appears to be that of a straightforward narrator, looking back on a pivotal, eventful summer of his life, telling the audience through monologue what happened, how, and why. It seems, on first reading, that he merely steps back, looks dispassionately at his relatives, and leads the viewer to draw some meaning from the unspooling of this series of reminiscences.
How boring would that be!
This is where Friel excels as a playwright and where he lets me, as an actor, do a lot of intense work to bring what is truly a complex character to thrilling, blazing life.
The genius and subtlety of the writing illuminates Michael. He is not simply recounting his memories to the audience, a reflection of the action you see onstage. He is an active participant in the re-living of his memories, enlightened and transformed along with the people he is remembering. He brings the audience along with him, casting light into the furthest corners of the experience everyone is witnessing.
As an actor, I have to be a detective when teasing apart a character like this — looking for clues in the words themselves; looking for clues in what others say about the character; looking for clues in the actions the character takes.
In subsequent posts, I’ll discover those with you, and we’ll see where these signposts lead me…
Brian Friel’s masterpiece Dancing at Lughnasa is a drama about five unmarried sisters eking out their lives in a small Irish village in 1936. It won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play, and Time Magazine called it “the most elegant and rueful memory play since The Glass Menagerie.” Our production opens April 20. Tickets and further information are available here.