Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
St. Patrick’s Day is approaching and it’s a very different occasion to prior years. I’m sure some of us will have zoom drinks or hang decorations around the house to celebrate in something like the normal way.We all share a common memory of the typical country town Paddy’s Day parade with tractors and lorries passing through the streets. I was lucky enough to be part of the parade myself over the years, with the numerous youth groups I was involved in. I thought I was the queen waving to my people.
There’s a great atmosphere surrounding the national celebration at home and abroad too. Alas, now more than ever, our Irish abroad look to home for comfort, with concern for family and friends, and anxiously await the day when they may travel home to be met with a bear hug.
The St.Patrick’s Day Festival has organised online events and also numerous folk and literature groups are doing zoom events. Numerous companies have found new ways to celebrate the event and one of these companies is DK Delights. I spoke with producer Derek Murphy about their upcoming event A Paddy’s Day Delight and about being an artist living in the UK for the past eleven years.
Could you tell me a little about yourself and your profession?
I am primarily an actor, voice over actor, presenter and in recent times I have become a producer, mostly of theatre and online content. I am from Cork originally, although I did live in Dublin for a few years before moving to the UK. I studied Drama and Theatre studies in Cork.
What was the attraction moving to London originally and what was your aim in terms of work?
Well, I had lived in Dublin for about five years and I moved to London in 2011. It was during the recession and things in the arts as an industry kind of took a nosedive. It felt like the right time to make the move over here. I think it was more so it was the ‘bigger pond’, in a way. There is so much creativity in Ireland, but in London there is just more work due to its size. I was told, weirdly enough at the time, that you will get more attention back home by being an Irish actor in London.
I have always been a performer and I wanted to move into TV and Film. I had done some work with RTE. I essentially would do anything, within reason. I am part of a company called Michael Friend productions and they do a lot of George Bernard Shaw plays. I have been involved with them around six years now. It has always held an interest with me to keep the Irish connection.
When you initially moved over, did you find that you were the ‘odd one out’ in the community?
It is funny you should ask actually, I was watching an event last night from the Irish embassy with the London-Irish LGBT group. It is something never discussed. We are not considered to be part of the community here, we are not seen as a minority. When I first moved over first, I thought it was just going to be a bigger Dublin, but it really isn’t. It took a while for me to find my feet. I do find some people do take a dig at you just because you are Irish living in the UK and you feel you need to laugh along with it.
Do you find that the arts industry in the UK is very different to Ireland?
I have a lot of experience from work I did in Ireland. When you come over here, it means nothing. They don’t know what RTE is, definitely not TG4. I think we are more aware of their channels than they are aware of ours. It is a shame, it would be great to see those channels broadcasted in the UK.
I was told my unique selling point is that I’m Irish, however, I feel like sometimes it did close some doors for me. Once they know you are Irish, it’s like they can’t see past that.
How have you found Brexit has affected your profession in London?
We are lucky that we are Irish, it hasn’t affected us massively. The British population have been told they haven’t been put up for work in Europe by their agents. I’m not sure how many do get work around the EU, but I am sure it has affected a lot of performers. It’s something that hasn’t affected us at all in that regard.
In your opinion, do you think the arts culture is hugely different in the UK compared to Ireland?
It is similar but also very different. As Irish people, we are storytellers and sing songs in pubs and funerals. It is an integral part of our culture. I don’t think you will ever be fully part of the culture compared to where you are from. I have never had a pub lock-in and sing-song here, I miss that!
Can you tell me about your upcoming production
Yes, it’s called Paddy’s Day Delight and it is an evening of Irish storytelling, music, comedy. It’s a bit of a variety show. We have a collaboration of Irish artists and talent and we chose Paddy’s day as a great opportunity to do that. With the situation at the moment, we needed to move all of our work online, which has been a blessing really. It meant we have been able to open our work to a larger audience than we’ve ever reached before.
You can book tickets through outsavvy.com and the tickets are just £6. You can tune in anywhere around the world to it. We are on the 17th at 7:30pm and Friday 19th at 7:30pm.
It has been a difficult one in terms of casting and rehearsing. For the most part, it’s myself and my partner Steve Sheridan. He also doubles as drag queen sensation “All or Nothing” in the production. So, I got two for the price of one there!. We also have new writing, new music from Irish musicians. We kind of had to use our own bubble this time around, so we needed to be more creative, which I think has been great for us to find new ways to work with online technology.
You can find DK Delight production company on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at DK Delight Productions. Again, you can book tickets on outsavvy.com and all the details to do with the production is on their website.