Growth of the Silk, an innovative chamber opera from theatre producer and composer William KZ, will be coming to Upstairs at the Gatehouse – an award-winning London fringe theatre above the Gatehouse pub in north London’s Highgate village – this August as part of the Camden Fringe.

The opera tells the story of a nameless woman who wishes for long, lustrous hair due to the overwhelming pressures to fit into the social structure of her world. Once she succeeds, however, she realises her desire was a mistake. In a twist of brutal magical realism, she is left crushed under the weight of the unstoppable growth of her new beautiful locks.

The production explores themes of societal pressure, vanity and adhering to beauty standards, while challenging their place in our world. The intimate cast features just two performers, a soprano and a dancer, along with a small ensemble of guitar, bass and percussion.

This is a multimedia opera, combining music, dance and film on stage. It moves through a fusion of light lyric soprano and contemporary, Latin-infused choreography as the characters examine questions relating to ‘techno narcissism’ and fairytale escapism, all within a sparse Brechtian set comprising nothing more than soundscapes, lighting and a barber’s chair. This surreal story sets out to create a moral fairytale for the modern day.

Performances take place from 23-26 August, with a run time of 45 minutes; tickets cost £12. See the Camden Fringe website for further details and to book tickets.

Manchester-based William Kz (also known as William Hearne) is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music; Growth of the Silk was his graduation portfolio production. As well as composing the music, Hearne co-wrote the libretto with Lavinia Murray. The piece premiered in Manchester in 2019. The production was originally planned to be performed at the 2020 Camden Fringe, which was cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Camden Fringe runs throughout the month of August. This performing arts festival was established in 2006 and it takes place in venues across north London. It encompasses new writing, opera, musicals, stand-up, sketch comedy, dance, cabaret, poetry, film, improvisation and more. See the website for the full programme.



Multimedia chamber opera Growth of the Silk will be performed at Highgate’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre as part of this year’s Camden Fringe.