Watching: an opera for children about sleeping

Watch the showreel!

March 25, 2016

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Watching - Sat 21 March 2015 - Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (photographer - Andy Catlin)


June 19, 2015

A huge WELL DONE to all the children at Leith Walk Primary, the students at Music in the Community (University of Edinburgh), and to everyone involved in Watching! We hope to be back with another project in 2017… Good night, and sleep well!

Watching – Sat 21 March 2015 – Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (photographer – Andy Catlin)

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March 18, 2015

After months of hard work – especially in the last few days, when we’ve been in the Botanics for hours every day – Watching finally opens tonight and we couldn’t be more excited!

We had our public dress rehearsal last night and everything went pretty much according to plan, so we can’t wait to use the energy drawn from the audience to give the rest of the run that little bit of extra sparkle.

We were even featured on BBC Radio Scotland’s Culture Show yesterday afternoon, which was a real honour and hopefully has done wonders for the publicity of the show. You can listen to it on iPlayer HERE (skip to 1:23:40 for interviews and snippets of music!).

We’re all so proud of the commitment of all the cast (especially Primary 7 of Leith Walk primary School) and crew and can’t wait to share our opera with you. Toi toi toi to all involved!

Photos by Andy Catlin


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Exploring the Botanics

February 27, 2015

On Wednesday 18th February, Music in the Community students visited the Botanics for the first time to see walk through the show and get a feel for how the staging will work. We got some very strange looks from other visitors (although I did notice that some of them had Watching flyers in their hands!), but all in all, it was really helpful to walk through all the scenes and locations in order and imagine how the space will look once it’s decked out in lights, beds and what-have-you! The glasshouses look so gorgeous anyway and we can’t wait to see them look even better when they’re lit up in the evening come mid-March.

We visited the Botanics again on the 25th with Primary 7 in tow, and they all seemed to really enjoy seeing their future performance space. Everyone has been working so hard to learn their parts, and despite the odd bout of nerves, they were all fantastic. Their class teacher was quoted as saying that it brought them all great joy and created a “treasure of special memories [that they can] dip into for evermore.”

Only 19 days til opening night!

Photos by Kirsty Renton

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Fun at Leith Walk

February 11, 2015

Today us Music in the Community students had our third session at Leith Walk Primary School. We’ve been visiting them every Wednesday for the past few weeks, not only to work with the Primary 7s on Watching but also to write some songs with the other classes on the theme of sleep; these will then be performed at their school concert next month.

We usually start by warming up and having some fun altogether in the hall. Today we played a variation on one of our favourite games, Rollercoaster, which had everyone pretending to be marshmallows and experiencing “zero gravity” in no time (not simultaneously, of course!). Once everyone was giggling and raring to go, we all went off to our classrooms to polish up our songs.

Each class wrote a set of poems based around sleep and night-time, and we chose a winner from each class whose poem we would set to music. For example, Joanna from P5/6 wrote a fantastic poem about trying to go to sleep when she’s not tired, and Laura, Ollie, Christie, Polly and Jess K have added a beautifully relaxing melody featuring talented solo singers and instrumentalists from the class. We’ve all pushed our creativity to its limit, with some classes even inventing weird and wonderful instruments, from bottle flutes to musical dreamcatchers, to accompany their songs. We can’t wait to hear how they all sound in the concert next month!

And of course, we cannot forget the stars of Watching – Primary 7. They have been working hard with Katy, Tim, Jess B, Ciara and Dee to learn the songs for the show, and with the help of Skye and Gerda have started to introduce costumes, props and choreography into rehearsals, which is really making the show come to life. It’s only 35 days until our first performance and we couldn’t be more excited!

It’s half-term next week so pupils at Leith Walk will get a much deserved rest, but our work continues as we’ll be going to explore the Botanics and imagine how it’ll be transformed next month…

Photos by Andy Catlin





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When forces unite…

January 24, 2015

On Thursday (22nd January), Primary 7 of Leith Walk Primary School ventured up to the Festival Theatre Studio to meet and work with Music in the Community students and the creative team behind Watching for the first time.

After much excited chitter chatter between pupils and students, everyone was keen to get started. Our choreographer Skye led a fun physical warm-up that had everyone running around and bouncing up and down, before Dee (the musical brains behind Watching) and Music in the Community students taught the children a fun “good night” singing game as a vocal warm-up. By the end, everyone was raring to go!

It took us about an hour and half – including a short break to re-energise with juice and biscuits! – to run through the whole opera, and the focus and enthusiasm shown by Leith Walk pupils was absolutely incredible; they are, without a doubt, an enormous credit to their school. Our two leads, Patryk and Carla (who play Jay and Ada respectively), rose to the challenge wonderfully and we can’t wait to see them in action in the Botanics. We were especially impressed with how Carla stayed so cool in a creepy scene with her Nightmare (played by Iulian Furtuna) – it was quite frightening, even to a group of students in their twenties!

Everyone had a fantastic time and we can’t wait to start preparations with the stars at Leith Walk Primary School this coming Wednesday.

Photos by Andy Catlin

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Fun with tape measure, percussion and half-forgotten dance moves

January 15, 2015

Today was Music in the Community’s first seminar of semester two, and that can only mean one thing – preparations for Watching are underway!

One of the first things we did was measure each other for our costumes (which, incidentally, are going to look fantastic!). With a class of 20-odd students and two 150cm tape measures, it was a bit of challenge but we managed. Roll on February 2nd when we can try on our costumes…keep an eye out for the pictures.

Our next task was to do some improvisation with percussion (cowbells, shakers, thumb pianos etc.) in order to create a soundscape depicting the ticking of a clock. The plan is to play this at the start of the show as we stand among a giant projection of a clock, and it sounded really good, so hopefully it should keep getting better the more accustomed we become to our instruments.

Ahead of meeting the children of Leith Walk Primary School next week, we spent some time recapping on the main choruses of the show and trying to remember the choreography for ‘Tick Tock’, which we made up with Skye Reynolds back in November. It was a bit tricky with no video to refer to, but we just about managed.

All in all, it was a productive session and we’re all really excited to show the children our ideas next week. Stay tuned to see how we get on!

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