St James Theatre and Cardinal Hume Centre are delighted to announce that an incredible £18,667.66 has been raised during the sell-out five week run of The Pianist of Willesden Lane, which ran at the St James Theatre from 20 January to 27 February 2016. The money will support the Cardinal Hume Centre’s work, enabling people to gain the skills they need to overcome poverty and homelessness, working with homeless young people, badly housed families and others in need in the Westminster area.
The Pianist of Willesden Lane tells the true story of Lisa Jura, who fled her native Vienna in 1938 on the Kindertransport, the rescue effort which brought approximately 10,000 Jewish children to Britain. Almost 80 years later, Lisa’s daughter Mona Golabek has brought the story of her mother’s experience to London following critically acclaimed, sell-out runs in New York, Chicago, Boston, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
At the end of each performance, Mona spoke directly to the audience, crediting the British people for her mother’s survival and encouraging them to support the Centre’s important work.
The parallels between Lisa’s story and those of so many of the clients of the Cardinal Hume Centre in 2016 are startling. Lisa lived in a hostel in London and she was supported to realise her dreams, as are the Centre’s hostel residents.
Currently in the Centre’s hostel are eight unaccompanied minors who came to Britain under similar circumstances to Lisa, with nowhere to go once in the UK. The Centre has been there for them, offering a lifeline and the support to settle into a new country without their families.
Mona commented, ‘It has been the greatest privilege to perform at the St James Theatre and share the story of my mother, Lisa Jura, with audiences in London. And what has made it even more meaningful is having the opportunity to tell the audience about the Cardinal Hume Centre, ironically a centre just like the one where my mother, as a young, frightened teenage refugee, found herself upon arriving in London prior to the start of the Second World War.
‘I am proud to speak about this Centre to the world, a place that provides so much precious help and care for so many people in need. Now more than ever, we must never forget our humanity, and the Cardinal Hume Centre is such a shining example of that humanity.’
Cathy Corcoran, CEO of the Cardinal Hume Centre, is moved by the support and what is represents. ‘The response from audiences at The Pianist of Willesden Lane has been incredible. It is testament to the fact that the story of people being forced to flee their country of birth to find safety is as relevant today as it was in the 1930s. The generous donations mean the Cardinal Hume Centre will be able to be there for even more of the people who come to our door in need of welcome and support to turn their lives around.’
The support of St James Theatre is part of Foot in the Door, a partnership between the Cardinal Hume Centre and businesses who support it through giving employment support to clients, by raising money, and by encouraging staff to volunteer at the Centre.
Photo: Tristram Kenton