Producer goes back to grass roots with Leith Festival play

IT is a brave decision to stage a play outdoors in Scotland - even in summer.

But when Alistair Rutherford wrote a play titled The Garden, producer Philip Kingscott decided to take him at his word and perform it at not just one outdoor venue, but five.

The play will be staged in a "secret garden" tucked away in the churchyard of South Leith Parish Church as part of the Leith Festival and will then go on a mini-tour of other outdoor sites.

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Also on the tour are the garden of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, The Lodge Garden during Fringe by the Sea in North Berwick, the Henley Fringe Festival and Howden Park Centre in Livingston.

Mr Rutherford said of The Garden: "It's about two families and how they brought up their respective sons in different ways and the way that those sons have grown up.

"The two families are linked through the house. At the beginning of the play it's a very hot day, and the married couple who live in the house are out in the back garden and this guy walks round into the garden uninvited and asks to sit down.

"Obviously they're a bit alarmed by this initially, but they realise he needs a bit of help and start to talk to him and gradually discover why he's come to that garden."

The play is being produced by Philip Kingscott of Peapod Productions, who also worked on An Island Between Heaven and Earth. Although the new play is not necessarily designed to be performed outside, he decided to take on the challenge.

Mr Kingscott said: "The garden is such a major part of the play the audience has to believe that they're in a garden and unless we had a budget of millions to create amazing garden sets, we wouldn't be able to do it, so I decided to do it outside."

Mr Rutherford, who was born in Leith and now lives in Corstorphine, said the secret garden, an area tucked away at the side of the churchyard, was a perfect spot for the production: "People would never notice it was there - it's off to one side. It does have some old stones in it but they're just around the wall of the area so there are no gravestones in the centre space - we're not going to be jumping out behind the gravestones like a ghost tour!"

He said he was delighted to return to the Leith Festival, having previously produced two other plays there, and to stage the play outside: "We're hoping for good weather - sunshine on Leith would be good."

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The Garden will be performed from June 15-19 in The Secret Garden at South Leith Parish Church. For full details and tickets see www.leith and for tour dates see