Richard Main on The Secret Garden: 'By performing it outdoors we help the audience feel more connected with Mary's adventure'

Richard Main on The Secret Garden: 'By performing it outdoors we can help the audience feel more connected with Mary's adventure'

Chapterhouse artistic director discusses the company's adaptation Hodgson Burnett's novel

Transporting an audience to a different world is the aim of every theatre company. But with its latest production, Chapterhouse has been given something of a head start, with each date on its UK tour of The Secret Garden taking place in an actual garden.

'There's so much emphasis on the garden and the natural world in the novel,' says Richard Main, artistic director of Chapterhouse. 'Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote, "If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden." And although it's fine to stage a production of The Secret Garden indoors, I think by performing it outdoors we can help the audience feel more connected with Mary's adventure. As she experiences the garden, so do we – the open sky, the changing light, the twittering birds.'

It's over 100 years since Hodgson Burnett wrote her novel, and life for today's children is very different in terms of their relationship with Mother Nature, something the production is hoping to address. 'We've adapted and directed the show with children and families very much in mind,' says Main. 'The Secret Garden is full of the wonder and excitement associated with being young. And getting children outdoors and engaged with nature is more important than ever.'

The novel itself also contains a lesson we all need to learn when passing from childhood into adulthood. 'The story tracks that important progression from selfishness to selflessness the more we experience the world,' says Main. 'By finding herself in a new environment, Mary softens from being spoilt and petulant to someone more understanding and thoughtful.'

Greenbank Garden, Glasgow, Tue 6 Aug.

The Secret Garden

Chapterhouse Theatre Company's stage adaptation of the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett follows young Mary Lennox on her journey of self-discovery to her uncle's house deep in the Yorkshire countryside, where unexpected friends and magical creatures help her to unlock the mystery of the secret garden.

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