In October 2012, north east Scotland’s Sound Festival premiered "The Garden", a new 35-minute opera commissioned from composer John Harris and playwright Zinnie Harris to be performed in a flat in Aberdeen. The sell-out performances attracted great reviews, and invitations to perform in 3 new places: a venue being run by Scottish Opera during the Edinburgh Festival, at the Tete-a-Tete Festival in London, and at NeuKollnerOper in Berlin, all during August 2013
"The Garden" is a gentle tale of love and hope, set in a high rise flat where a couple discover a strange plant growing through the floor of their kitchen. The more they pull up its roots, the more it grows back, its gentle insistence eventually reminding them of important but forgotten emotions, and ultimately providing a way of reconnecting and finding each other. It is based on the original short play of the same name by Zinnie Harris, which was commissioned by the Traverse Theatre in 2009 and won a Fringe First Award as part of “The World is Too Much With Us” season.
In total, we need to raise £16,000 to tour 'The Garden' in August. We are fairly certain that we can raise £12,000 of this from other sources, but that still leaves £4,000 to find... and this is where you come in! Everybody's donations towards this total, however large or small, will be a step towards our goal, and we hugely appreciate anything that you may be able to help us with. Your support will mean so much to us - and that we can meet the costs of transport and travel for the tour, accommodation, venue hire, rehearsal room hire, props and costumes, and all of the other things that need to be paid for to make it all work. We'd LOVE to make this happen, and with your help we can!
The Garden reviewed in The Scotsman newspaper (****), October 2012
“An intimate city-centre flat was the location for The Garden by Zinnie and John Harris, a bleakly dystopian tale of overpopulation and a despairing urban couple (played compellingly by Pauline Knowles and Alan McHugh) who discover an apple tree growing in their living room. The real revelation, though, was the way Harris’s astonishingly expressive vocal lines slipped effortlessly back and forth between speaking and singing.”
Meet the people behind "The Garden":
Composer and Musician John Harris worked mainly in theatre and film before he began composing opera. His music includes over 35 professional productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre of Scotland, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Traverse Theatre, Dundee Rep Theatre, and the Edinburgh and Naples International Festivals. He scored the Scottish BAFTA-winning animation The Fingertrap, and animations for S4C and Channel 4. In 2008 he was commissioned for Scottish Opera's 5:15 series, and then invited to create three short operas with Tapestry Opera in Toronto within their LibLab programme, leading to a co-commission for a 75-minute opera by Scottish Opera and Tapestry Opera for Edinburgh and Toronto in 2015.
Librettist and Director Zinnie Harris is an award-winning British playwright, screenwriter and director. In 2004 Zinnie received the Arts Foundation Award for Playwriting and she is an Associate Art ist at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. She is currently under commission to the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Court Theatre. Zinnie also writes for television and radio, including two 90 minute dramas for Channel 4 - Born with Two Mothers (2005) and Richard is my Boyfriend (2007) and episodes for the BBC drama series Spooks.
Singing actor Pauline Knowles has recently appeared in Tam O'Shanter at the Edinburgh Festival and Pass the Spoon directed by Nicholas Bone at The Queen Elizabeth Hall. She appeared in Fleeto and Wee Andy during the Edinburgh Festival and on tour in Australia, for which she won the Best Performer prize at the Adelaide Festival. Other theatre credits include Wind in the Pine at Oran Mor directed by Paddy Cunneen, Sue Glover's Marilyn directed by Philip Howard at the Citizen's and Lyceum Theatres, While You Lie directed by Zinnie Harris at The Traverse Theatre, Cinderella, Othello, Yellow Moon and The Wizard of Oz at the Citizens Theatre, Great Expectations at the Byre Theatre St.Andrews, A Walk in the Park at the Assembly Rooms, Man of La Mancha at the Edinburgh Lyceum, Tutti Frutti for the National Theatre of Scotland, Mrs Linde in A Doll’s House for Theatre Babel and Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off on tour. Her recent television includes Case Histories for Ruby Films/ BBC1, Garrow’s Law directed by Peter Lyden, Personal Affairs for 2AM/BBC 3 and Wolf - Manhunters for the BBC.
Singing Actor Alan McHugh’s work includes Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Borderline); Tally’s Blood (Byre Theatre); Sunset Song (Prime Productions); A Passionate Woman (Perth Rep); Three Steps To Heaven (1st Base); The Jolly Beggars, Bedfellows, The Silver Darlings (Wildcat Productions); The Grapes of Wrath (7:84/Dundee Rep); A Taste of Honey (The Arches); Jack and the Beanstalk (Qdos); Aladdin (Adam Smith Theatre). Television work includes: Dear Green Place (EffinGee Productions); Jess the Border Collie (IWC Media); High Road (STV); Battlefield Britain Culloden (BBC2); Sea of Souls, River City, Rab C Nesbitt (BBC Scotland). Film work includes: Small Moments (Oxygen Films) and Wild County (Gabriel Films).
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