25 February - 6 March 2020

We Are in Time

Two bodies, suspended in darkness.
A team of surgeons, poised as one.
A gathered chorus, singing of life and death.
And a human heart, speeding through the city…

Unfurling through song, words and a visionary live score for strings and electronics, We Are In Time follows the extraordinary journey of two strangers, one giving life, the other receiving it. Musicians are at once performers, chorus and specialist team as the drama between renowned mezzo-soprano Ruby Philogene and vocalist Jodie Landau unfolds, and time ticks on.

The result is a thought-provoking meditation on life, and on what it means to live; on the frailty and strength of human beings, working together, with science, against nature, in search of the superhuman.

  • Written by
    Pamela Carter
  • Composed by
    Valgeir Sigurðsson
  • Directed by
    Stewart Laing
  • Music Direction by
    Jonathan Morton
  • Tue 25 February 7:30 pm
    Perth  Perth Theatre

    Preview performance

  • Wed 26 February 7:30 pm
    Perth  Perth Theatre
  • Fri 28 February 7:30 pm
    Glasgow  Tramway
  • Sat 29 February 7:30 pm
    Glasgow  Tramway

    With a post-concert talk

  • Tue 3 March 7:30 pm
    Edinburgh  Traverse Theatre

    With a post-concert talk

  • Wed 4 March 7:30 pm
    Edinburgh  Traverse Theatre
  • Fri 6 March 7:30 pm
    Inverness  Eden Court

The Trailer

Notes: The Music

by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Operation. Cutting out the heart of one human being. Transporting it in a box. Implanting it in the body of another. When Scottish Ensemble approached me to collaborate with Stewart Laing and Pamela Carter on a “heart- transplant project” it immediately struck me as a fascinating subject. For a piece of music theatre, the Opera_ting Theatre. After dreaming of the possibilities I found myself submerged in the work that is now coming together in We Are In Time, and this music which is on many levels my most ambitious yet. Pamela went deep behind the scenes in researching the medical procedures, the science and the history of organ donation. And she has married this intel so wonderfully with the human element, the journey of one coming to terms with his own death, and another accepting to live with a heart that is not her own. Pamela’s poetry is the true backbone of this music, and an idea that I kept closely in mind when I was writing the choral- sections (sung so bravely for us by the string players) was that for me as an outside eye the whole procedure reminds me of a ceremony; a religious procession. A mass. The teams of surgeons and hospital staff appear to take on a God-like role, and I’m astounded by the science and procedures that we as people have developed in the pursuit of extending a human life. Success even just by a fraction of a lifetime makes this journey worthwhile.

Subject matter aside, this piece has presented many challenges for me as a composer. As the musicians take on the roles of chorus and medical staff, basses, cellos, violas and violins – with their vast range of possibilities for making sound – replace the surgical instruments. Electronic sounds blend in to remind us of the humming machinery that is constantly present. I was privileged to be able to work so closely with members of the Scottish Ensemble in the writing process too. It is an honour to be given the opportunity to write for a group of such extraordinary musicians.

Notes: The Direction

by Stewart Laing

We Are In Time. Pamela’s title for this new composition has been humming round my head for a long time now. It was Valgeir who recognised that the words make an acronym – WAIT. And there is certainly a lot of waiting for those on critical lists for organ transplants. I thought for a long time that the title had a double meaning, suggesting a connection between the intricate time keeping of a music ensemble and a similar precise coordination in the surgical teams involved in heart transplantation. We are in time with each other. It took me a while longer to reach
another, more tentative sense in these four words. We made it just in time. And of course the medical treatment of a critical heart condition is time sensitive, it must be achieved within a certain time frame in order to save the patient’s life. The last time Pamela and I talked about the title, she suggested a further more existential interpretation. We all exist in time. We organise our lives within the human construct of calibrated time and it gives us a sense of past, present and future. We Are In Time.


  • Stella
    Ruby Philogene
  • Jay
    Jodie Landau
  • Narrator
    Alison O’Donnell


  • Production Manager
    Nick Millar
  • Technician/Re-lighter
    Laura Hawkins
  • Stage Manager
    Sophie Wright
  • Stage Manager (rehearsals)
    Fiona Johnston
  • Technical Stage Manager
    Emma Campbell
  • Wardrobe Supervisor
    Emma Clifton
  • Sound Engineer
    Jonathan Green
  • Model Maker
    Catherine Morgan
  • Produced by Raw Material
  • Producers
    Gill Garrity, Margaret-Anne O’Donnell
  • Student Placement
    Sophie Aziz
  • Social Media
    Niall Walker

Resources & Downloads

  • We Are In Time - Programme

    4.67 MB
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