LOWELL – Maeve Harrington, in her fourth year teaching Fine Arts and Theology at Lowell Catholic, recently celebrated the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day by producing her first original play, “Finn.”
“Finn” is a story of immigration to Lowell, of perseverance and strength. Lowell Catholic’s Junior LC Players were cast into roles that were written just for them.
“They did a phenomenal job at bringing the characters to life because I intentionally wrote their personalities into the script once the play was cast,” Harrington said. “In many ways they were able to shine just by being themselves.”
Harrington, a Massachusetts native, started acting at the age of 10 when her family enrolled her in a summer camp production with Rebel Shakespeare. She attended Saint Anselm College, where she majored in Fine Art and knew she had truly found her calling in directing the first time she saw the faces of the actors she directed receiving applause.
“It’s OK to be the one in the spotlight, but it’s so much better to be able to help actors grow in a way that you can enjoy seeing them absorb the ovation and do well,” she said. “Directing is where I get my joy in the theater.”
The tale of “Finn” is based loosely upon the experiences of Harrington’s family, both past and present, and is presented as an allegory for being brave in the face of adversity whether you were an immigrant 200 years ago or 200 days ago.
The play celebrates Lowell’s rich history as a town on the cutting edge of technology during the Industrial Revolution and weaves together the family traditions and trials of an Irish mill girl in her new surroundings.
“It’s important to write what you know,” Harrington said. “I’m from Salem, but these kids come from Lowell, so I wanted it to be relatable for them, and everyone here knows the mills are to Lowell what the witches are to Salem, so that was the source of my inspiration for the theme.”In addition to Harrington’s writing and directing, she attributes the success of sold-out shows to the inspiration of Colleen Tully pushing her writing efforts, Becca May for teaching the students the traditional Irish folk music, Jess Smith for advertising and program efforts, and the many parents who helped with ushering and ticket sales.
LC high-school students Katherine McMahon, who attends the Heavey Quinn School of Irish Dance, and Emi Bazanotti, who attends the O’Shea Chaplin School of Irish Dance, also choreographed the traditional Irish dance in the play.
“To be honest, I didn’t know much about my Irish culture or history before I started working on ‘Finn,’ but I’ve learned so much since then,” LC student Anna Deignan said. “My Irish heritage is a big part of who I am, and being part of this show has helped me embrace it. Being involved in LC’s co-curricular activities with classmates has also taught me about hard work, teamwork, commitment and time management, all while having fun with my friends.”
“The big take-away,” Harrington stated of her writing efforts, “is this: We owe it to our ancestors to tell their stories. Their stories are our stories, too. … And most of all, children are brave, resilient and powerful, and they are the ones who will tell the stories of us to the future.”
The LC Players will perform May 1-3, and the Annual Arts Week will be celebrated May 5-7.