Show that brings theatre to heart of community

By Shelley Marsden

NON-PROFIT arts organisation Fifth Province Productions is celebrating a year’s sponsorship by construction company J. Murphy & Sons Ltd with a public matinee performance of its touring show Journey to the Fifth Province.

The performance, at London Irish Centre on Sunday February 23, is the culmination of a busy twelve months which have seen the company take its show to ten Irish centres across Britain, with an emphasis on access to the more vulnerable and isolated members of the community.

Producer Liz Newbery said sponsorship from Murphy’s – the leading construction, civil engineering and building company established in 1951 by John Murphy – has enabled the company to meet the cost of bringing the show to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to work of this kind.

She told the Irish World: “Murphy’s were also celebrating 60 years in existence when they decided to sponsor us for a year, and they realised the significance of taking the work to that age-group of people. It was the same generation that had come over to work for the firm in its early days. It was like a thank you to the community and there was a nice circular feel to it –a real coherence in what they did.”

Murphy’s sponsorship saw the company take the show to different parts of the UK, including a number of groups of vulnerable, marginalised elders, to the places where those people go and were convenient to them – to lunch clubs and day centres close to home.

“We’re a community interest company, that’s our ethos. Part of our own remit is to make sure we serve the community through the arts, making sure people have access to high quality theatre when they might not even consider themselves theatre-going people”, said Liz.

She added: “We are proud to be the first arts organisation to have received sponsorship from J. Murphy & Sons Ltd, and are grateful for their vision in taking a bold step into sponsoring the arts at a time when support is hard to find. Our event this month is a fitting way to celebrate that support and make the show available to the community in north London”.

Performed by seasoned actor Dónal Cox (past audiences have described him as a “spellbinding storyteller”) and All-Britain champion Celtic harper Harriet Earis, Journey to the Fifth Province draws on Cox’s own reminiscence and on work by Ireland’s great writers and poets, bringing to life a host of characters and stories, with live music to accompany the journey.

Liz believes the show captures the imagination for its universality: “It somehow finds a personal connection with every single person in the audience. Everybody finds themselves somewhere in the story. Journey to the Fifth Province is every man and woman’s journey, through good times and bad.”

Journey to the Fifth Province will be performed at the London Irish Centre, Camden Square at 3pm (doors open 2.30pm) on Sunday February 23. Tickets are £12 /£6 concessions in advance from LIC or £14 / £6 concessions on the door.

For more, see www.fifthprovinceproductions.org.uk.

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