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Great people and inspiring new premises - delighted to be taking the show there this spring.

It's an honour and a double pleasure to be presenting our first show of 2012 in partnership with the Embassy of Ireland, and at the newly refurbished London Irish Centre, Camden Square. The performance will be on Thursday 16 February starting at 7.30pm sharp.

The Embassy is lending support because it acknowledges, alongside the quality of the show, the value it has in reaching out to the generations of Irish people who have uprooted to the UK and in re-affirming their identity in challenging times. 

Tickets available in advance from http://www.londonirishcentre.org/ at £10 /£8 concs

Tickets on the door  £12 / £8 concs

Following our winter break we're pleased to announce that the UK tour of 'Journey to the the Fifth Province', supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, is set to resume with dates in February, March and April.  Looking forward to bringing the show to more new audiences.


The autumn leg of our UK tour culminated in a matinee performance at the Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith, before a hugely responsive audience.  We had to call for extra seating to be added as the room filled.

The majority - and core audience, unsurprisingly - was Irish but also present were a significant number best described as from the arts, media and communications sector. Very rewarding indeed to see again a total of eight people who were attending the show for the second (or in one case, third) time.  Each of them, whether Irish or not, has expressed the view that the work is easily rich enough and engaging enough to merit more than a single visit.   

Every audience reacts in its own way and this one was both quick to find the humour of the show and generous in its appreciation.  Applause was heartfelt throughout the show and people rose in acknowledgement of Donal and Harriet, their commitment and their energy. 

  

Our venue in Harrow Weald was the Salvatorian College Theatre, home to musical and theatrical productions by touring companies as well as by students of the college itself.  The theatre provides a space in which students can learn technical skills as well as opportunities to put those skills into practice by crewing for shows.

And so we met our lighting crew: young, committed and - by the time of our arrival - wrestling with control software affected by a glitch serious enough to be bothering them rather a lot.  We pressed for more detail and the description 'fluctuating light levels' turned out to mean a likely fade to black every five or six minutes throughout the performance.  Not ideal.  Cue Liz, our Producer, taking on the mantle of a college Head of Department, repeating firmly that she didn't need to know anything more about the fault but did need to know whether power could be supplied on either side of the auditorium to a pair of free-standing lamps, which would provide a minimum level of light throughout the fluctuations, and allow the show to continue reasonably uninterrupted.  The crew responded with purpose, focus and good grace, to deal swiftly with the practical problem we all faced.

Donal and Harriet became just as immersed as usual in the energetic delivery of their performances, whilst light levels fell and rose by turns.  The narrative reached a point at which - figuratively speaking - a gap opens and light is let in, offering "an illumination".  With perfect synchrony (the stuff of an entire suite of control software!) our lights rose to full power.  Fifth Province magic.

Sincere thanks and congratulations to the two Matthews, James and head of crew Jordan, along with every encouragement to pursue their interest in technical theatre. 

We're fast approaching the weekend of three dates that will complete the autumn leg of our 'Journey to the Fifth Province' tour:

Friday 18 and Saturday 19 November, 8pm

Salvatorian College Theatre, High Road, Harrow Weald HA3 5DY

Tickets £10 from 020 8863 0059

Information at  http://bit.ly/vkAFYH 

Sunday 20 November, 4pm

Irish Cultural Centre, Black's Road, Hammersmith W6 9DT

Tickets £8 / £6 concessions from 020 8563 8232 or online at

http://www.irishculturalcentre.co.uk/?q=content/journey-fifth-province

A fantastic turn-out in Colliers Wood, packing more than 80 people into St Joseph's Hall.   With this being home patch to our production office we'd been able to ensure direct contact between Fifth Province Productions and a number of relevant local interest groups.  Working in partnership with community-building network Making Colliers Wood Happy, we were able to draw our most diverse audience to date.  The majority present were non-Irish, and cultural backgrounds indicative of south London's diversity were represented.  Audience members ranged in age from under-11s to seniors; spanned the worlds of professional and amateur music; we played to students of theatre and to people who said of themselves that they simply didn't have any contact with literature.

What characterised the listening was a generosity and willingness to give the production a try even if it were an overt departure from people's usual material of choice and represented a perceived 'risk' in terms of accessibility.  Valuable feedback from many present and a truly rewarding event.  Our warm thanks to all who gave practical support.

An enjoyable trip to Liverpool, making our contribution to the city's 2011 Irish Festival.  At the launch event Festival organisers emphasised how pleased they were to be involving our venue, St Michael's Irish Centre, as an active participant in the celebrations.

The audience created a wonderful attention to the performance - along with a moment of anxiety for our Producer: at the end of the show, as applause died down, no-one moved.  Was something wrong?  Well, no.  It became clear, as quiet conversation arose across the tables, that people were choosing to hold the moment, and reflect on images, ideas and recollections the show had triggered.

One elderly man told us about his early experience of poems - being forced to learn and recite them in school, beaten if the memory failed.  Later on, and free from that dread, a love of words managed to resurface and establish a place it continues to hold in his life.  Long may it do so.

Our destination the Dylan Thomas Theatre.  Located in the heart of Swansea's Maritime Quarter it's a well equipped community run facility and home to the Swansea Little Theatre - of which Dylan Thomas himself was a member in the 1930s.  We included the city in our tour as part of our commitment to reaching new audiences.  There is no organised Irish Centre that could serve as a marketing base - which is not to say that the city lacks a substantial population of Irish heritage.  With the Cork ferry in dock, almost within sight of the theatre, the Irish are never really out of the picture.

Our primary marketing focus on the theatre's own mailing list yielded an audience high in quality if low in numbers.  We found ourselves playing for the first time to an audience containing no-one who declared themselves to be Irish.  Interesting that the fantastic reception demonstrates the show's appeal is not limited to people of Irish heritage, and that three separate groups within the audience had made journeys of over 30 miles to attend the production.  One UK-born Welsh resident wrote:

'An inspiring and stimulating evening which surpassed expectation in its range and impact. This quality of production deserves the widest possible audience for it is all too rare an experience.'

Poetry remained unquestionably in the air.  In the waterside square outside the theatre, looking with affection at the statue of Dylan Thomas himself, were Terence and his wife.  Falling into conversation with us, and discovering the shared passion for words, Terence spoke for us a long and beautiful composition of his own reflecting on the passage of life and lives, inspired by the stories caught within the church of his Essex village.  Moment of magic we shared, the spirit of Thomas present with us.

We've been exploring for some weeks the possibility of bringing into the team a second musician, and weighing up the creative and practical benefits that come with having on board another exceptionally talented performer.  Sharing out the commitment to tour dates - and to the travelling involved - seemed the right-thinking way to go for reasons of health, wellbeing, sustainability and cost, to say nothing of the sense that we were about to double our rich supply of musical skills and insights. 

As Musical Director, Harriet has devised a score which serves the production superbly well.  None of us however has ever held it to be prescriptive, and that has left a great deal of space and opportunity for our new musician to make a rapid and significant contribution to the show's development.

A very warm welcome therefore to Celtic harper Stephanie West, who approached our preliminary meeting, and today's rigorous rehearsal, with good humour, creative flair and professional focus in equal measure.  

Heading for west London, to The Rose and Crown in Ealing, to celebrate National Poetry Day.  One of the many and varied events taking place across the UK in celebration of the richness, power and diversity of poetry, old and new.  To the best of our knowledge 'Journey to the Fifth Province' constitutes London's only event to focus on the wealth of poetry from Ireland - though someone may yet tell us otherwise!

One thing we know for certain is that Steph played on her first 'Journey to the Fifth Province' and did a fantastic job.  She has a particular love for playing alongside the spoken word, and members of the audience (a full house, in the pub's inviting 'library' area) were astonished to learn afterwards that it had been her debut with us. 

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The Rose and Crown is known for being friendly, accommodating and well-appointed; for its great menu and for Manager Tom Tucker's vision to establish a programme of interesting events in the pub, including small scale theatre.  The pub sits close to Ealing Studios and first steps towards our performance there were made a good many months ago when Donal took refuge in the pub following a film casting.  He sat next to the open fire with a drink making amendments to the script that was steadily becoming 'Journey to the Fifth Province'.  Having established that it was indeed a script, Tom asked 'Why don't you perform it here?'  And that was that.