How, as a director, would you present the role of Michael in Friel's 'Dancing At Lughnasa' What theatrical impact would you hope to achieve for the audience AS with every character, a director must analyse and interpret Michael as they see him and then try to get this across to the audience without making him stand up stage and give them a profile of his and his aunts lives. As a director, I think that Michael's monologue at the Beginning of Act 1 is a key speech in terms of interpreting Michael's character. From reading the text I would say, Michael (who is looking back at his memories) is still a young man, perhaps in his twenties. I think this because his memories are so vivid.
When you are still youngish you can still remember and relate to feelings you had as a child, you still understand why you thought or felt what you did. And so, in my opinion Michael (as an adult) should be staged as mid twenties. I also think that it would be easier for the audience to imagine a youngish Michael as a little boy rather than a man of about 45 as a little boy. Michael's speech, for me, does not reflect an unhappy childhood, yet it doesn't show that he was completely happy either.
" I had a sense of unease, some awareness of a widening breach between what seemed to be and what was, of things changing too quickly before my eyes, of becoming what they ought not to be." I see Michael perfectly content with his surroundings. Nothing within the play makes me conclude that being brought up by five women and no father has affected him in any way. It seems that he would react to things as any normal boy of seven would. This part of Michael's character really needs to be conveyed to the audience so that they have no reason to look at him in a different way to how they would look at any other little boy. As a director I'd want the audience to like Michael, there would be n reason for them to feel sorry for him and they shouldn't absolutely adore his character either. The strange thing about Michael as a little boy is that he is never actually there, there is never an actor on stage to play the character of Michael.
This makes it really difficult to get my interpretation (as a director) of his character over to the audience. This is why I have decided that I would have the older Michael on stage whenever the younger Michael is needed. For example, when Maggie is giving him riddles, Michael doesn't pay much attention, it's almost annoying for him. The older Michael should be on stage for this but not standing where the younger Michael should be. Maybe he'd be behind the action and slightly to one side so he can be seen by the audience or even on the other side of the stage, watching. Here he would be making faces as Michael would have as a child.
This way I am using the older Michael to convey what the younger Michael would be feeling through my eyes. It would also be important that the actresses never look at the older Michael - he is invisible to them as these are his memories. I would have to set eye lines for them so they all know how tall the younger Michael was standing up and sitting down.