Gardens Speak


“even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins.”
-Walter Benjamin

Across Syria, many gardens conceal the dead bodies of activists and protesters who adorned the streets during the early periods of the uprising. These domestic burials play out a continuing collaboration between the living and the dead. The dead protect the living by not exposing them to further danger at the hands of the regime. The living protect the dead by conserving their identities, telling their stories, and not allowing their deaths to become instruments to the regime.

Gardens Speak is an interactive sound installation containing the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in Syrian gardens. Each narrative has been carefully constructed with the friends and family members of the deceased to retell their stories as they themselves may have recounted it. They are compiled with found audio that evidences their final moments.


“Art is supposed to be universal – and there is no more universal thing than fear of death. Or grief. In Gardens Speak, out of the most specific experience, Tania El Khoury crafts something massive.” Paul Mason, Channel 4

This piece will change the way you think.” What’s on Stage

Eerily absorbing.”  Evening Standard

A stark, moving theater piece by Tania El Khoury, brings us into painful intimacy with the human cost of the war.” The New York Times

“One of the most uniquely individual and profound theatrical experiences in recent memory.”  Edge Media Network


Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Paul Mason, Channel 4 News Blog

Don Aucoin, Boston Globe

Jo Litson, Limelight Magazine

Louise Nunn, Adelaide Now

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

Matt Trueman, Personal Website

Melbourne Arts Club 

New Internationalist, Canada

The Age Newspaper, Australia


Shortlisted for the Artraker Award 2014

Artsadmin Artist Bursary Scheme, London, 2013


Upcoming Shows

ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury, Philadelphia: 6-23 September 2018


Previous Shows

Galway: Galway Festival, 23-29 July 2018

Abu Dhabi: NYUAD, 27 April- 3 May 2018

Miami: MDC Live Arts, Miami Art Basel, 6-9 December 2017

Boston: Emerson Paramount Center, 8-19 November 2017

Belfast: Belfast International Festival, 6-28 October 2017

Trento: Centrale Fies, 25-29 July 2017

Tallinn: SAAL Biennaal, 19-23 August 2017

Brussels: Moussem, 3-10 February 2017

Oslo: Kulturkirken Jacob, 23 Feb-6 March 2017

Adelaide: Adelaide Festival, 4-18 March 2017

Douai:TANDEM Scène Nationale, 13-18 March 2017

New York: Under The Radar, 6-9 January 2017

Ljubljana: City Of Women, 12-15 October 2016

Marseille: Festival de Marseille, 30 June-16 July 2016

Fribourg: Belluard Festival, 23-26 June 2016

Amsterdam: Holland Festival, 16-19 June 2016

Athens: Fast Forward Festival, 25-30 May 2016

Beirut: Spring Festival, 3-8 May 2016

Cairo: D-Caf Festival, 15-18 April 2016

Washington DC: Building Museum, 7-13 April 2016

London: Battersea Arts Centre, 2-19 March 2016

Lancaster: Festival of Questions, 4-6 February 2016

Munich: Spielart Festival, 23 Oct – 1 Nov 2015

Bucharest: BEAR Festival, 16 October 2015

Edinburgh: Forest Fringe, 26-30 August 2015

Birmingham: Fierce Festival,2-5, 9-12 Oct 2014

Melbourne: Next Wave Festival, 1-4, 7-11 May 2014

London: Artsadmin, 5-6 March 2014



Production Manager: Jessica Harrington

Production Assistant and Audience Guide: Naya Salame

Research Assistant and Writer (Arabic): Keenana Issa

Calligraphy and Tombstones Design: Dia Batal

Set Design: Abir Saksouk

Sound Recording & Editing: Khairy Eibesh (Stronghold Sound)

English Translation: Ziad Abu-Rish

Set Construction (in London): SPLEX Flexible Designs & Presentation


Co-commissioned by Fierce Festival (UK) and Next Wave Festival (Australia.) Developed through the Artsadmin Artists’ Bursary Scheme. Supported by Arts Council of England.



For touring, please email