Meet Siyanda, who this October will be inviting visitors to join her mission protect the world’s plants.
For just nine days, Kew is teaming up with award-winning theatre company, Theatre-Rites to bring to life the story of the magnificent Temperate House and its precious plants through a theatrical experience using live music, puppetry and performance.
Siyanda, a completely original creation, is the guardian of the glasshouse who will be imparting her incredible knowledge and wisdom of some of the temperate plants of Africa.
A larger-than-life puppet, she towers at six feet tall, her dress adorned with seeds, grasses and other special items to assist her on her quest.
Accompanying her are three performers, her fellow ‘Plant Protectors’ who will help visitors on their adventure
The Temperate House, the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse, has recently reopened its doors after a huge five-year restoration.
Housing over 10,000 plants from across the world’s temperate zones, this magnificent structure is the jewel in Kew’s crown and an utterly unique performance space.
A resounding call from a ‘Plant Protector’ will signal the start of the performance, calling visitors young and old to gather and ready themselves for a journey.
On this exciting experience, visitors will discover why these plants are so important to us all. Moving through the leafy Africa Zone, Siyanda will tell the stories of some of the special species that call the Temperate House their home.From ancient palms, to plants that can cure diseases, to plants on the brink of extinction and in need of our care and protection.
One such specimen is the majestic Wood’s cycad, Encephalartos woodii, which is completely extinct in the wild and as such has been dubbed ‘the loneliest plant in the world’.
Siyanda will also reveal the work of Kew’s incredible army of horticulturists and scientists who collect, study and nurture plants from all over the globe.
Gina Koutsika, Head of Visitor Programmes, Events and Exhibitions at Kew says: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Theatre Rites to produce a brand new theatre performance inspired by the incredible Temperate House at Kew.
Siyanda and her Plant Protectors will delight visitors of all ages, encouraging them to learn about the wonderful world of plants and what we can all do to care for them”.
Claire Templeton, Executive Producer at Theatre-Rites says: “We are thrilled to be creating a new experience for Kew visitors. It has been wonderful to work with Kew staff and to have an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the magnificent Temperate House, truly getting to know its contents.”
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s Wild Botanic Garden, attract over 2.1 million visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.