Theatre students find community among locals in Irish town

Theatre students find community among locals in Irish town

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2024

Group photoshoot in Ireland

Being away from home, especially in a different country, came as a bit of a culture shock for some of the LC Theatre students who traveled to Ireland in January. However, even those who had never been out of the country were quickly put at ease by the locals and guides who welcomed them like dear friends or ‘cairde gaoli’ to the small community of Glenties in Donegal County.

The students — the cast and crew of the upcoming production of Brian Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” — were visiting the setting of Friel’s drama to research and prepare for their February staging of the play.

“We had the opportunity to meet so many community members who were excited for us to be in their hometown,” said Junior Jackie Morman. “Local actors performed excerpts from Brian Friel’s plays and many of them knew his family and the real people who inspired his characters in ‘Dancing at Lughnasa.’”

The seven-day program was hosted by the Bundoran-based Institute of Study Abroad Ireland and the curriculum for theatre studies was designed and delivered by multi-talented actor, director and playwright Maura Logue. She, along with ISAI instructor Aidan Given, worked with the students on history, cultural context, dialect and accent, costuming and rehearsal.

“The Institute did a terrific job of finding good people to guide us through Donegal County. They have a passion for the play and provided us with the excellent historical context,” said senior Annabell Sapp.

On the final evening in Bundoran, Logue, Given and LC Theatre Coordinator and Director of the production Kim Barber Knoll, gave the students a surprise performance of a scene from ‘The Aristocrats’ by Brian Friel.

“Maura was astonishing,” Knoll said. “Collaborating with her on all aspects of the production; — text, dialect, intention and costumes — was an incredible experience. She is a force of nature.”

The LC group began their immersive experience at The Laurels, Friel’s family cottage, to get a sense of the play's setting. In addition, they were treated to a piece by local Helen Power from Friel's play ‘Faith Healer’ at the new Lughnasa Creative Art Centre. They also went to St. Connell's Museum for a guided tour and had a moment of reflection at Friel's grave at the top of the glens.

It was incredible to have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in this culture and to get to meet the wonderful people in these communities,” said sophomore Isabella Rapoza. “They talked about the characters in Friel’s plays like they were their neighbors. It has been an honor and privilege that we got the chance to have that experience.”

On the last day in Donegal, the cast, dressed by Dark Daughter costumes and photographed by Given, posed for a publicity shoot on the Fairy Bridges in Bundoran.

“When we were getting ready to take our photos, a double rainbow appeared over the sea as if on cue,” said sophomore Aria Mabry. “It could not have been more perfect. Everything just fell into place.”

Knoll said the trip was a transformative experience that had a profound impact on the group.

“This experience has prepared and inspired us as we begin our rehearsal process which will only heighten our performances, but it has also changed all of us,” she said. “Donegal is more beautiful and friendly and rich in culture than we could have imagined. Being guided so masterfully by Maura, Founder and Director of ISAI Niamh Hamill and Aiden through the culture, history and language was an enrichment our students will never forget.”

Their experience garnered attention in Irish newspaper, radio and television programs that include The Irish Times, Donegal Live, Donegal News, The Ray D’Arcy Show and BBC Belfast.

The trip was funded through the Louis and Mary Kay Smith Travel Grant at LaGrange College.

“We are so grateful to the Smiths for their generosity and providing opportunities for our students to travel and experience cultures outside of America,” Knoll said.

For more information on study abroad, contact Michele Raphoon, Program Coordinator in the Office of Global Engagement at


Campus Notes

Faculty member named to new title
  • History Professor Dr. Kevin Shirley was recently named the Ethel Dallis Hill Professor of History. As the holder of this endowed professorship, he will advocate for history for our students and in the larger community.                                                                                           
  • Campus offices will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Classes will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
  • Lamar Dodd Art Center and LaGrange Art Museum are accepting submissions for the Fifth LaGrange Southeast Regional to be held Feb. 24-April 20. The Regional is a biannual juried competition open to artists over 18 years of age who live in the Southeastern United States. The categories are painting, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, photography and mixed media. Visit here for more information. The deadline is Friday, Jan. 12 (today).
  • Online applications for the two Religion and Political Science Maymester courses that were relocated from Israel to Greece will be open until Friday, Jan. 12 (today). For more information on all of the study away opportunities in 2024, visit the Global Engagement website.


Collegiate Enrichment Events

MLK Speaker: LaGrange Mayor Willie Edmondson

Thursday, Jan. 18

11 a.m., Corn Auditorium

Political Science Department holds Martin Luther King Jr event

  • The Political Science Department invites students to hear LaGrange Mayor Willie Edmondson give a presentation regarding politics and how to work together across party lines.


Video of the Week

Dr. Joe Cafaro's 3D Journeys lecture - January 22

A gift to the community, LaGrange College presents its 14th Season of 3D Journeys Lectures and Travels entitled "Portugal: A Tailor-Made Journey from Lisbon to Porto”

Our monthly lectures:

Monday, Jan. 22 - Dr. Joe Cafaro, History

Monday, Feb. 26 - Dr. John Cook, Religion

Monday, March 11 - Dr. Linda McMullen, International Business

Lectures begin at 10 a.m. in the Dickson Assembly Room at Turner Hall.



Men’s Basketball

Competition at Piedmont

LC is 10-6 (2-1 CCS) and went 1-1 this past week. The Panthers dropped their game to Piedmont 113-106 on Friday, Jan. 5, but crushed Covenant 96-59 on Saturday, Jan. 6. The team returns to Mariotti Gym to face Berea on Friday, Jan. 12 (today) at 7 p.m. and then Maryville on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4 p.m. Both CCS contests will occur after the home women’s basketball games.

Women’s Basketball

Competition at Covenant

The Panthers are 9-3 (3-0 CCS) and beat Piedmont 79-69 and Covenant 71-49 this past weekend. The team returns home to take on Berea on Friday, Jan. 12 (today) at 5 p.m. and then Maryville on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 2 p.m. The men’s basketball games are set to start 30 minutes after these CCS contests.

Player earns second conference honor

Junior Zyhia Johnson earned her second CCS Player of the Week award. Over the past week, she helped lead the Panthers to a 3-0 CCS start with road wins over Belhaven, Piedmont and Covenant. In these games, Zyhia averaged a team-high 18 points and had an incredible 25 points while adding eight rebounds, seven steals and two assists in the win over Belhaven.

Freshman earns first conference honor

Freshman Taylor Smith received her first CCS Rookie of the Week award. In the past week, she posted a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds in an 83-76 win over Belhaven. Smith then had two back-to-back eight-point and nine-rebound performances against Piedmont and Covenant.


Panther Calendar

(Please note that schedules may change due to circumstances beyond our control. Please check to confirm.)

Friday, Jan. 12 – Women’s Basketball (Home) vs. Berea, 5 p.m., Mariotti Gym

Friday, Jan. 12 – Men’s Basketball (Home) vs. Berea, 7 p.m., Mariotti Gym

Saturday, Jan. 13 – Women’s Basketball (Home) vs. Maryville, 2 p.m., Mariotti Gym

Saturday, Jan. 13 – Men’s Basketball (Home) vs. Maryville, 4 p.m., Mariotti Gym

Tuesday, Jan. 16 – Women’s Basketball at Agnes Scott, 5 p.m., Decatur, Georgia


In the Headlines

More than an athlete: Kenzie Hornsby serves the community on and off the diamond, LaGrange Daily News, Jan. 10

Local economist talks possibility of recession, LaGrange Daily News, Jan. 6

Category: Academics, Arts and Culture, Global engagement

Keywords: Travel, History

Press Contact

Lindy Oller

Last updated: 01/26/2024