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Lafayette College Theater will perform Translations by Brian Friel on the main stage of the Williams Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Tickets cost $6 and may be purchased by calling the box office, (610) 330-5009.

Director Michael O’Neill will preview the play in the Williams Center theater noon-1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29. Lunch may be brought or purchased for $3.

Scenery for the production is by Richard A. Kendrick, lighting by Vicki Neal, costumes by D. Polly Kendrick, Parrott Designs, and sound by Timothy Frey. Chris David ’04, an electrical and computer engineering major from Sandy Hook, Conn., is stage manager.

The play is set in 1833 at a “hedge school” in County Donegal, Ireland. Hedge schools were common in Ireland at this time. The British allowed the Irish to teach certain subjects to their countrymen in various makeshift places, such as barns and kitchens. The action takes place during a British military operation in Ireland that is surveying the entire country and renaming its geography in English. Simultaneously, the English are setting up national schools that will teach only English and that will, in effect, kill the Irish language.

Friel’s play centers on a family conflict. The younger son, Owen, returns with the British army surveyors to Donegal to help them translate the Irish place names into English. His father, Hugh, runs a hedge school where he teaches Latin, Greek, math, and geography. The older son, Manus, assists his father and intends to marry one of the students, Maire, who wants to leave Ireland for America. Maire and one of the British soldiers, Lieutenant Yolland, fall in love, despite their linguistic and cultural differences — and with drastic consequences for all the characters and their village.

Translations was the first production of the Field Day Theater, founded by Friel and Stephen Rhea to explore potential identities for Ireland outside the constraints of existing conditions embodied in Northern Ireland’s Protestant-Catholic conflict. It premiered in Derry in 1980, and has since been produced around the world.

Friel is the author of Dancing at Lughnasa, Philadelphia, Here I Come, and many other plays.

A veteran of Lafayette theater productions, Sandy Veresink ’02 (Easton, Pa.), a double major in English and government and law, last played Germaine in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the angel Gabriel in The Nativity, and Barbara in Major Barbara In Translations, she takes on the part of Maire, whom she finds to be an “interesting and difficult character” to portray.

“First, she can only speak Irish, therefore she has to make the English lieutenant fall in love with her without saying a single word he can understand. Secondly, she has to remain completely focused on her goal at all times, which is to leave Ireland and go to America. And people get hurt because she is so set on achieving her goal,” Veresink says.

Veresink has discovered a personal connection with the play. “I am really enjoying this production because I feel it’s almost about my family, the O’Donnells from Donegal. I feel like I’m learning more about my own family and background and it makes Translations all the more special for me.”

Last January Veresink traveled to Ireland during interim session between regular semesters to take a special three-week Lafayette course called The Land and Landscape of Ireland. She plans to take another interim-session abroad course, The New Russia and the Old, this January.

She is undertaking a senior honors thesis on political theater and how government can use theater to better itself. Last fall Veresink completed a distinctive independent study as a teaching assistant for a First-Year Seminar theater class taught by O’Neill, writing a report on medieval theatre and her experiences in the class. She also served an internship with the Lehigh Valley PBS television station, which included a role on the production team of the show “Tempo.”

Veresink is president of the female a cappella group Cadence and of Played Out, a student theater group dedicated to educating fellow students about important health issues. She also is a member of the Arts Society, treasurer of the College Democrats, and ritual chair and chair of alumnae relations for her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta.

Following roles as Adolfus Cusins in Major Barbara and Mac in The Nativity, Marquis Scholar Terrence Monte ’03 (Valhalla, N.Y.), a mechanical engineering major, is portraying Hugh in Translations.

“Hugh is a very difficult character,” says Monte. “He speaks in Irish English and Latin, so the dialect is difficult. But most intriguing about Hugh is that he delivers many of the themes that Friel writes about in his speeches. He is pompous, but not a fool; intelligent, but cluttered from alcoholism. Also, he is 60 and I am 20. I find it very difficult to walk like an old person.”

Monte says his love of Lafayette theater motivates his frequent participation. “Working with such an amazing director like Michael O’Neill really makes it enjoyable to be an actor. He has a tremendous talent for finding ability and bringing out the best in people.”

Last spring, Monte studied at Vesalius College of the Free University of Brussels in one of Lafayette’s six faculty-led semester-abroad programs. In January hopes to take the three-week interim-session abroad course The London Theatre, in which students will attend a dozen plays in London and Dublin. The course will be taught by O’Neill and Suzanne R. Westfall, associate professor of English.

He also is writing a one-act play in an independent study with O’Neill. He is a member of Lafayette’s advisory board for the arts, led by Ellis Finger, director of the Williams Center for the Arts. In addition, Monte and participates in Learning in Friendship Together, a weekly mentoring program for fourth-graders at March Elementary School in Easton, conducted through the Landis Community Outreach Center. He is a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity.

Marquis Scholar David Norton ’04 (Kensington, Md.) is enjoying his first acting experience at Lafayette. He was drawn to the play by the need for actors who could imitate Irish and English accents. As Doalty, Norton provides much of the comic relief in the play. However, the character is a complicated one, says Norton.

“On the surface he takes the role of the class clown and to a degree the village idiot, but there is an underlying darkness about his character too,” Norton explains. “He’s involved with the Irish opposition to the British, and more than any other Irish characters, save perhaps Owen, he knows about what is going on politically in the country. So it’s hard to balance comedy with seriousness and apparent dimwittedness with street-smart intelligence. You can’t be extreme one way or the other, and finding that balance is challenging.”

The play has been a rewarding experience, says Norton.

“The cast members are great, and I’m learning a lot about theater that I didn’t know before,” he says. “It’s not all automatic. I used to think that if you can act you can pull off a play, but there’s more to it. The characters are much more complicated then you think and you have to analyze them carefully, and spend a lot of time considering the other characters too and how they work into the play. There’s a lot of actual studying involved that I don’t think many people are aware of. You can’t just pick up a script and go.”

Norton is a reporter for the student newspaper, The Lafayette, a member of the Kirby Government and Law Society, and a participant in intramural sports. He also plans to travel to Russia during interim session. He was a member of Student Government last year and plans on participating in it again.

Manus — Jonathan Pushman ’02
Sarah — Rebecca Novia ’02
Jimmy Jack — Rick El Darwish ’03
Maire — Sandra Veresink ’02
Doalty — David Norton ’04
Bridget — Liza Zitelli ’02
Hugh — Terrence Monte ’03
Owen — Ian Bibby ’02
Captain Lancey — Luke Landherr ’05
Lieutenant Yolland — Andrew Bostian ’02

Categorized in: Academic News