November 6, 2009

Reflections from the Cast of "Dancing at Lughnasa"

“Brian Friel’s work is so captivating in that it has multiple themes going on—religion vs. paganism, memory and identity, use of language, etc—and not exactly any clear-cut answers. This role was a challenging one for me, and I learned so much about my technique by playing a character with so much more life experience than I have. With Marianne’s awesome, freedom-giving guidance, by the end of the process, I had found such deep, personal connection with aspects of Kate that it was both extremely fun and extremely difficult to go onstage every night opening myself up to the emotional rollercoaster it would end up being and letting things hit those raw nerves. One night before the show, I remember the thought kept popping into my brain: ‘I get to help tell this story. I get to help tell this story.” It wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about my performance, my work, technique, etc. etc. It was about the story. This work is admittedly Friel’s most autobiographical, and I felt honored to portray one of ‘those five brave Glenties women’ who were Friel’s aunts and pay tribute to their lives.” –Katie Fridsma, 3rd year MFA student (Kate Mundy, thesis role).

“It was an honor to be involved in such a fantastic show and I feel so blessed to have started my work here at Regent with this show. I had worked with Marianne previously during my undergrad at Vanguard University and it was so wonderful to get a chance to work with her again. She really stretched my understanding of the role beyond just playing the part of narrator. Michael was just as much a character in this show, being changed and molded throughout, as any of the others. Exploring Michael's emotions during the show really only whetted my appetite as I feel I could have gone so much further it had the run had been longer. I'm so glad I got to see every second of this show over and over again. I learned so much watching the four thesis actors and I can't wait to do a role where I get to talk face to face with someone!” –Jeff Fazakerley, 1st year MFA student (Michael)

“There are fun moments in theatre, some great moments, as well as some inspiring ones. Lughnasa for me, was a fiery exaltation of everything that I have ever hoped to be as an actor; sharing moments of pain and joy onstage. Every night, exhausted beyond reason, I thanked God for His connection between my talents as an actor to offer up Maggie's story to the Regent community at large. I couldn't ask for anything more than playing Maggie Mundy. I will truly miss her and my Mundy sisters. ‘Yeawww!’” –Anna Koehler, 3rd year MFA student (Maggie, thesis role).

“From the moment I auditioned, I fell in love with both Jack’s initial vulnerability and his tenacious grace. Indeed, Marianne Savell, our director, encouraged me immensely when she suddenly exclaimed during our initial one-on-one meeting, ‘I mean, you really are Father Jack!' My reflection would be incomplete without a comment on the privilege it was to play opposite the rest of a very talented cast. Having worked professionally for many years prior to coming here, I am pleased to proclaim that my fellow MFA castmates are all ready to compete at the professional level, regardless of where they are in the program. I am especially excited to watch the 'thesis role' girls take the plunge upon graduation this summer and know that God has good in store for each of them. To all who danced along with us… words are no longer necessary.” –Mike Salsbury, 1st year MFA student (Father Jack)

“Being my first show at Regent, Lughnasa was a challenge as well as a rewarding experience. One of the ways it was challenging was having to speak in a British dialect when all the other characters spoke with an Irish dialect. It was incredibly hard to speak in an accent different from all the other cast members. I listened to people speaking the dialect nonstop, watched Mary Poppins with my children and An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest with my wife. Finally, even though my girls (Mia and Bella, twins age 3) looked at me funny, I spoke in the dialect almost all the time at home. One of the ways Lughnasa was a rewarding experience was that I had the privilege to play opposite Katie Cheely, who played Chrissie—Gerry's love interest. Katie was spontaneous, flexible, and downright fun onstage. Through being onstage with Katie, I learned by her example how to truly listen to the other person in the scene and respond accordingly through the text. With its challenges and rewards, I was honored to be a part of the cast of Dancing at Lughnasa and thoroughly enjoyed the direction of Marianne Savell.” –Nathanael Fisher, 1st year MFA student (Gerry Evans)


  1. What a beautiful show! From the first moment to the last, I was transported into another world. Truly one of the best productions I've seen at Regent.

  2. Thanks to all of the actors for how much of yourselves you poured into these roles. I was blessed and inspired by watching your work.

  3. Lughnasa is one of my favorite plays and at Regent I felt like I was peeking over the fence or through a key hole to watch a family's story play out before me. Well done everyone! Another fantastic production. I can't wait for the rest of the season!