Performing Dancing at Lughnasa on screen
De Meo, Mariagrazia
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Considered one of the most representative playwrights in the contemporary Irish scene, Brian Friel offers in his plays a changeable and inconstant perception of language, where words are mainly understood as transitory and translational as they are able to generate ambiguity, due to a variety of contradictory interpretations. Therefore, through the search for new channels of communication that go beyond words, he moves away from realism, presenting theatre as a liminal space of physical liberation and rituality, a means of expression that sets free from the tyranny of words. The article examines the adaptation from the play to the film of one of Friel’s most acclaimed plays, Dancing at Lughnasa, in which words fail their communicative intent and leave ground to dance, as a way for the characters to rediscover a form of archaic rituality that marks the triumph of irrationality and communicates a sense of alienation to the audience. The aim of the research is to analyse the linguistic re-modulation and renegotiation between words and images in the cinematic performance, highlighting those features of Friel’s theatre that find a new form on screen. To talk about adaptation as a form of translation presents, on the one hand, the enduring issues concerning fidelity and equivalence and, on the other, the necessity for the adaptation to find an independent voice, following its new semiotic dimension. Without departing from a comparative analysis, the basic perspective will consider the film performance in its intertextual dimension, therefore as a product of transformation and re-modulation of different discursive practices that determine autonomy from its source.