Derelict Leith theatre to open up for Edinburgh Festival

Leith Theatre has stood abandoned in the Capital for some 28 years. Picture; Jon Savage
Leith Theatre has stood abandoned in the Capital for some 28 years. Picture; Jon Savage
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A THEATRE which has stood empty for nearly three decades is to receive a new lease of life thanks to the imminent arrival of a multi-arts festival.

More than 130 artists, bands, poets and theatre companies will take to the stage at Leith Theatre to take part in the Hidden Door Festival, which gets under way tomorrow.

The not-for-profit festival is returning for its fourth outing with a host of live theatre, music, cinema and poetry for audiences to enjoy.

And while the evening programme is ticketed, the festival venue will be free to explore from noon every day.

David Martin, Hidden Door creative director, said: “Edinburgh is a city busy with festivals but Hidden Door opens up new spaces for artists and creative talent to bring something new to the mix, celebrating innovation and experimentation in the arts.

“People may think that Edinburgh doesn’t have a lot of disused buildings, but they would be amazed at the secrets that are still there to be discovered.

Picture; Jon Savage

Picture; Jon Savage

“This year we have access to one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets – the old Leith Theatre. Many people think they have been to the Leith Theatre, but have in fact only been to the adjoining hall.

“The actual theatre is breathtaking, and we will fill every nook and cranny, backstage room, under the stage and even the roof space with exciting art installations, theatre shows and film from some of Scotland’s most promising new artists.

“And then of course we have the fantastic main auditorium which we will bring to life in a spectacular way – with music from the likes of Hidden Orchestra and new enfant terrible Anna Meredith, plus fantastic new site-specific theatre productions by Grid Iron, Ludens Ensemble and Surge.

“This will be our most ambitious festival yet, and will reflect a dynamic emerging cultural scene in Scotland.”

The festival, which will run until June 4, comes after a high-profile fundraising campaign endorsed by author Irvine Welsh and film director Danny Boyle helped bring in more than £21,000.

Earlier this year Welsh agreed to become patron of the abandoned theatre and launch a £250,000 drive to get the facility fully up and running again.

He said: “Hidden Door has once again produced an excitingly ambitious programme and we can’t wait to see the historic Leith Theatre provide the perfect backdrop for this year’s festival.”

Jason Rust, chair of Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, said: “We’re thrilled about our collaboration with Hidden Door Festival.

“This is a great opportunity to present four exciting groups in a new context, and to a new audience.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk