Dancing at Lughnasa



Auditions will be held at the Maddermarket Theatre  on :

WEDNESDAY 24th MAY 6.45-9.00pm (in the Emmerson Studio) and

SUNDAY 28th MAY 10.30am-1.00pm (in the Bar)

Auditions will consist of an individual 20-minute session with the director during which you should perform the audition speech you have learnt.

Please select a date and preferred times and email me on : fullwoodthomas@ntlworld.com and I will confirm the timing with you.

You should also give your mobile/home phone number and indicate the part you wish to audition for and I will send you the speech that needs to be learned for the audition.

You can also sign up in person in the Maddermarket Office.


Call-back auditions, one of which you should in principle be able to make, will be on WEDNESDAY 31st May 6.45-9.00pm OR SUNDAY 4th MAY 5.30-7.30pm

A reading copy of the play will be available in the Maddermarket Office.


Rehearsals begin week commencing 7th August from 7-10pm on weekday evenings. You can expect to be required for up to FOUR evenings per week. Some weekend rehearsals may be required if we fall behind through absence or illness.  

Performances: 22nd-30th September with Saturday matinees on 23rd & 30th




THE PLAY : Dancing at Lughnasa is a memory play in which the adult Michael recalls his 7 year old self and Lughnasa, the Celtic harvest festival, of 1936. It is set in rural Donegal. The setting comprises a cottage kitchen and garden but may include symbolic elements too.

At the play’s centre are the five unmarried Mundy sisters and their brother, a Catholic priest who has been sent home after 25 years’ service in the leper mission in Uganda. Michael’s father, Gerry, makes rare, unannounced visits which enliven but also disturb all the sisters.

The sisters scrape a living from Kate, the eldest sister’s, teacher’s salary, and by knitting gloves. The precariousness of their material circumstances is matched by their lack of emotional fulfilment. Only music from the radio, known as Marconi, brings some excitement to their quietly desperate lives, and that only works intermittently.

Friel is sometimes called ‘the Irish Chekhov’ because he writes tragi-comedies peopled by characters who, like the Mundy sisters, possess an over-riding sense of disappointment and the feeling that a better life remains just out of reach. Also like Chekhov, Friel presents a world that is about to change; this is the last year the Mundys will all be together. 

The cast should expect plenty of rehearsal exercises using various Stanislavski techniques.

CHARACTER NOTES – NB: all ages are playing ages and approximate.

Please note: At the first audition it will be OPTIONAL whether you attempt an IRISH ACCENT. It will be sufficient just learn the speech for your chosen part and perform it in the way you see that character at that moment. At the call-back audition, Irish accents will need to be attempted if required.

Two of the sisters and Gerry must be able to manage one Cole Porter-ish dance (see below) which will be choreographed. The five sisters’ pent-up emotions also explode in a manic, improvised dance to the sound of an Irish band.


Kate, 40s: the eldest sister, breadwinner and matriarch of the family, upholding duty and Catholic propriety in the face of material and personal challenges. Her dominant personality masks her fears at the precariousness of their lives. Irish accent. (In 6 of 8 scenes; 400 lines.)

Maggie, late 30s: Maggie is the main home-maker, spirited, romantic, with a wicked sense of fun. Liable to tell jokes and riddles and to burst into improvised, earthy songs but she too is aware how bleak their future might be. Irish accent. (In 6 of 8 scenes; 380 lines)

Agnes, mid 30s: usually shy and introspective, she is Rose’s special protector. Will make the break from home first. Hopelessly attracted to Gerry. Knits gloves. Loves dancing which she does well. Irish accent. (In 5 of 8 scenes; 180 lines)

Rose, early 30s: Rose is ‘simple’, her disability shows in her innocence, her gaucheness and her erratic outbursts. She believes a local man is in love with her; he is married with a family. Knits gloves. Irish accent. (In 4 of 8 scenes; 140 lines)

Chris, mid 20s: Plays her part in the house-keeping and loves her son. Her relationship with Gerry causes her much pain but when with him she has moments of escape and delight. Dances pretty well. Irish accent. (In 6 of 8 scenes; 270 lines)


Jack, early 50s but looks older and frailer : A Catholic priest and missionary. After 25 years in Uganda he is at first disoriented back in Ireland. He cannot remember some English words and there is uncertainty about why he was sent home. Later he seems more rational but in his mind the rites of the Catholic church have become confused with the pagan practices of Africa. Scarcely a trace of an Irish accent. (In 4 of 8 scenes; 220 lines)

Gerry, early 30s: dresses and acts dashingly and is plainly a chancer and a womaniser but all his boasting is a cover for knowing he is a failure in most things. To escape, he has enlisted with the Spanish Republicans and is off to fight in the Civil War. He is a good dancer.  English Accent. (In 3 of 8 scenes; 240 lines)

Michael, the script says ‘a young man’ but he is at least early 30s and could be 50 : has five long monologues recounting his memories of his family and his 7 year-old self in the summer of 1936 from a perspective of, at least, 25 years later. He also speaks but does not act his lines as a child.  He brings a lyrical, poetic perspective to the play as well as adding the tragic dimension when he describes what becomes of the family after 1936. Gentle Irish accent. (In 5 of 8 scenes but the monologues will be rehearsed separately; 280 lines)