The Garden

The Garden

by Zinnie Harris (writer and director) and John Harris (composer)

Produced by sound

Set at a time when humanity has run out of resources, John and Zinnie Harris’ The Garden tells a dystopian tale of a couple at the end of their tether. Living on the 10th floor of a “high-rise block” they discover hope in the form of a strange tree growing through the floor of their kitchen.

Based on an original short play of the same name by Zinnie Harris, commissioned by the Traverse Theatre in 2009 and winning a Scotsman Fringe First Award, this new operatic version was commissioned by soundfestival and premiered in Aberdeen in 2012. In 2015, The Garden was selected for the prestigious Made in Scotland showcase and was part of the Traverse Theatre’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme. Most recently, in June 2016, The Garden had performances at Xintiandi Festival in Shanghai, China.

Touring history

  • 2nd & 3rd November 2012 - Premiere, sound Festival, Aberdeen (United Kingdom)
  • 8th & 9th August 2013 - Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival, London (United Kingdom)
  • 13th & 14th August 2013 - Paterson's Land, Scottish Opera, Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
  • 17th & 18th August 2013 - MOVE OP! Opera Festival, NeuKöllner Oper, Berlin (Germany)
  • 12th June 2015 - Potsdam Sanssouci Music Festival (Germany)
  • 18th - 30th August - Made in Scotland Showcase, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh Fringe (United Kingdom)
  • 14th - 19th June 2016 - Xintiandi Festival, Shanghai (China)

Future performances

The Garden is open to touring opportunities. Please see the Promoter information and tech spec below for more information.


The acting and vocals are directed so intensively by Zinnie Harris that this opera, with its two actors, can compete with the best of British or Northern European contemporary cinema. - Berliner Zeitung, August 2013

The Garden may possibly herald the advent of a new genre. - Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide (***), August 2015

It’s a very bleak play that somehow left me feeling incredibly uplifted. But also what I liked about it is this idea of trying new forms of opera because opera is notoriously expensive, notoriously overblown at points and to see this (“The Garden”) in this tiny tiny studio theatre made me think that there’s great futures ahead for opera. - Louise Welsh on Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4, August 2015

Small-scale new opera is seen too rarely in Scotland. This piece – which is short…and convincingly designed…and in which the composer plays his own subtly effective music – is a powerful advert, both for the art form and for the show's producer, sound. - Mark Brown, Sunday Herald, August 2015

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