“If I’m doing business for too long, I’ll go to clown school for a bit”
When it comes to performance art, a little entrepreneurship can go forward, as Barcelona-based Kiva Murphy has proven. After leaving Rathgar High School in 2004, the Terenure native decided to study acting at Trinity College.
“I only lasted six weeks, because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I started a few businesses including Alakazam, a children’s entertainment agency, a bouncy castle rental company called Castle Crew Ltd, and a company called Drama, Drama, where I organized after-school activities for kids.
To improve her skills, she obtained a Diploma in Drama and Dance Education from Griffith College, Dublin in 2007. After that, Murphy moved to London, where she established the UK branch of Alakazam, expanding into the corporate entertainment and with over 100 performers in its books.
“I also started working as a clown doctor with Theodora Children Trust, which I still do. I travel to children’s hospitals in disguise, do magic tricks and jokes in the UK, Spain and Ireland. Kids love it and it’s so gratifying to see how much that little burst of joy is so needed.
But, she insists her look isn’t all clown shoes and baggy 1980s costumes. “I improvise a lot and mix it up a bit to look like Mr. Bean or Charlie Chaplin or whatever. one from Monty Python. “
Murphy says she has always been an entrepreneur in a business where people often struggle to monetize their talents.
“When you work in the arts as an actor, performer, clown, or any other type of artist, it is widely believed that your destiny is to sit on the phone or be poor half the time. Business skills should also be taught in arts and entertainment schools. Learning to earn a living will not take away from the integrity of the vocation.
After successfully expanding her children’s entertainment businesses in the UK, she sold Alakazam and moved to Paris to attend a clown school and learn mime, before moving to Barcelona in 2013.
Since arriving in the popular Spanish city, she has shot several commercials and feature films, including Los Europeos by Victor Garcia Leon and It Snows in Benidorm by Isabel Coixet. “
Murphy started an interactive events company, No Guilty Bones, based in Barcelona, but also operating in the UK, in 2014.
“My team and I organize all kinds of events with our host of artists, photographers, permits, catering, decorating, venues, translators and more. We do improv and theater and have done comedy tours in England, Scotland, USA and Canada to name a few. Sometimes you get a flat leak, other times you have to sell tickets to make money, but if the events are well known, it works.
She also runs an improvisation school called Barcelona Improv Group (BIG). “I work with BIG as an actor, I put on shows but also as a co-director, I run online and offline courses and I do events for large corporate clients like Reebok, Zurich and Nespresso.
“We have regular shows, but also corporate events, where we show business people how to use the tools of theater for team building, risk taking, comedy and public speaking. . It’s great to see the corporate side embrace the artistic side.
On living in Barcelona, the Dubliner says speaking Spanish is a bonus, but many English speakers get by with the basics.
“It’s very international and people speak English, but it’s great to understand the nuances and the comedy as you learn a little bit more. Also, when I first came here, the roles I had were in movies and TV shows as a foreigner, playing someone from England or Ireland, which was great, but I have had more opportunities since learning the language.
Murphy says she bought an apartment right before the foreclosure in 2020, which has been a blessing. “I was very lucky to have the place, because it has a large terrace. We were really locked in here and couldn’t even go to exercise. I had friends at my house so we had fun. Now I use the rental apartment for photo ops and filming projects, as well as for Airbnb.
She says the pandemic has forced her to take a step back and work on her new home.
“I was working on 14 projects when the lockdown took place, so it was good to take a moment. I also acquired a dog, so I am settled here now. House prices, she says, are about 30 percent lower than in Dublin. “I probably couldn’t afford that kind of space in Dublin.
But now the performances and travel are back, Murphy says she will continue to mix things up. “If I do too much commercial stuff for too long, then I’ll go to clown school or something for a while.” It is good to use both sides of the brain.
“I plan to create a new show using only puppets. I’m a little addicted to doing things and Barcelona is a great place to do things, although the wages aren’t as high as at home.
“Right now there are fewer tourists, which is great for some people but very difficult for businesses that depend on the industry.
“The only downside is that thieves who target tourists are now going after locals. You have to watch yourself here and keep an eye on your belongings. It’s sad that Spain and Barcelona are famous for flying, because it’s so much more than that. But if you’re careful, you should be fine.
“Beyond that, Barcelona is an incredible place for artists to thrive.”
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