Ada can’t sleep. Will the two apothecaries, Dewberry and Frostbait, have the remedy for her sleeplessness?

Watching is a new opera for children funded by the Wellcome Trust which aims to excite interest in the function of sleep among families living in the city of Edinburgh. Four sell-out promenade performances of Watching took place at twilight from 18-21 March 2015 at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

“The Watching project is one of a kind. A thrilling exploration of sleep science through music, theatre and history, Watchingpromises to demonstrate the real impact that art can have on public health. The creative team are uniquely equipped to generate fresh interest in the vital yet forgotten question of sleep’s crucial role in our lives. It is a pleasure to watch the project coming to fruition in schools, and at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, in 2015.” – Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and Head of Department of Ophthalmology, University of Oxford


Here is a synopsis of the story:

The action opens in the laboratory of two doctors, Frostbait and Dewberry, who are trying hard to find a cure for sleeplessness. Frostbait believes that he has found the perfect remedy using roses and violets, but Dewberry disagrees. A little boy called Jay knocks at the door. He has come to ask the doctors if they can help his sister, Ada, who can’t get to sleep.

Later that same evening, Jay takes the doctors to visit Ada who is – as usual – wide awake at bedtime. Frostbait administers a spoonful of his precious remedy. Everyone waits with baited breath, but nothing happens. Despite Jay’s best hopes, Frostbait’s cure has failed.

It’s midnight now, and Ada still can’t sleep. She drifts wakefully in the still of the night. Dewberry decides to try something else. He finds a magic flower, the Venice Mallow, and slips it confidently under Ada’s pillow. Ada settles down to sleep at last – only for a terrible nightmare to wake her up.

Meanwhile Frostbait and Dewberry are squabbling about their respective remedies. Jay reminds them that Ada still needs their help.

Dawn breaks at five in the morning. Finally Jay catches up with Ada who has been wandering by herself, dazed and exhausted. He sings Ada a lullaby – and at last she drifts off to sleep.

More information can be found on the Watching website.
Composer: Dee Isaacs
Director: Gerda Stevenson
Words: Katharine Craik
Movement director: Skye Reynolds
Sound: Matt Collings & Sean Williams
Lighting: Jonnie Clough
Design: Gillian Argo
Costume: Anna Cocciadiferro

Performed by Music in the Community and children from Leith Walk Primary School.