Anna Meredith and Idlewild kick off Hidden Door 2017

SAY Award winner and Scottish indie legends launch this year's festival, as it spreads its wings across the refurbished Leith Theatre

Edinburgh's Hidden Door Festival returns with less a programme than a statement of intent, continuing its ethic of celebrating innovation and experimentation in the arts with 10 days and nights of arts events in the newly resurrected Leith Theatre from Fri 26 May–Sun 4 Jun.

The fourth edition of this non-profit, multi arts fest begins in considerable style with two nights of live music – curated by The List, no less. The Opening Party features Scottish Album of the Year award winner Anna Meredith on Fri 26 May, alongside Bossy Love, Bdy_Prts and Marnie (of Ladytron). On Sat 27 May, Edinburgh's very own Idlewild headline what will likely be their only UK show of 2017, with support from Hamish Hawk and alt-rockers Dama Scout.

Whatever your jam – music, theatre, visual art, film or spoken word – Hidden Door crams it all in and, in the process, sparks new life into a previously abandoned, historic art deco building in Edinburgh. Having hosted the likes of AC/DC and Kraftwerk, Leith Theatre had been left derelict for 28 years, with control recently handed from Edinburgh City Council to an independent trust with approval to oversee a total renovation of the venue. Hosting Hidden Door is the first step toward reshaping it as a new artistic haven in the city.

'People may think that Edinburgh doesn't have a lot of disused buildings but they would be amazed at the secrets still there to be discovered,' says Hidden Door Creative Director, David Martin. '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.'

Anna Meredith and Idlewild launch Hidden Door 2017

image: Leith Theatre auditorium / credit: Chris Scott
Leith Theatre Trust Patron, Irvine Welsh, adds: 'Hidden Door gives audiences the chance to glimpse what the future of the theatre could be and show others how versatile and interesting it can be in the meantime through its programme and use of space. I'm excited to see a like-minded organisation coming together with us and bringing Leith Theatre new life.'

In addition to Meredith and Idlewild, other musical highlights from the festival include a collaboration with the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. They'll present Gnabgnab, renowned rapper/saxophonist Soweto Jazz and nine-piece Riot Jazz, in what should be a helluva show to get down to on Fri 2 Jun. Not to mention Hidden Orchestra, Tinderbox Orchestra and Kathryn Joseph all on the closing weekend.

Helping fill every square foot of the building, theatre company Grid Iron will premiere a new work, while Ludens Ensemble return to Hidden Door with Love, a performance based on Shakespeare's Sonnets. In visual arts, more than 20 artists from an open call join a further 11 invited artists exhibiting in all corners of Leith Theatre with sculptures, sound, video and performance art.

Continuing the pattern of organisational partnerships, Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Africa in Motion, Scottish Queer International Film Festival and Kino Klub guest curate Hidden Door's film programme. And in spoken word programming, INTERROBANG?! presents its Phantom of the Opera-themed Ghosts of the Citadel, while New Writers Award winner Rachel Plummer, Matt Hulse, Matt Rogers and Scottish Clarinet Quartet present an electronica-inspired Parlour Guide to Exo-Politics.

There's more to highlight but, with treats tucked into the very fabric of the old Leith Theatre, discovery is half the experience. As Lorna Duguid, Multi-artform Manager at Creative Scotland, notes: '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.'

Hidden Door lineup (additional acts still to announce):


Friday 26 May
Anna Meredith
Bossy Love

Saturday 27 May
Hamish Hawk
Dama Scout

Friday 2 June
Riot Jazz
Soweto Kinch

Saturday 3 June
Hidden Orchestra

Sunday 4 June
Kathryn Joseph


Grid Iron, Ludens Ensemble, SURGE Project, Heroes Theatre, Tam Dean Burn, Kathyrn
Spence, JJG Dance, Annie Lord, Charlotte Hasting, Clare Marcie, Roanna Davidson, Theatre
Sans Accents, Jamie & Lewis Wardrop, Tragic Carpet, It's Complicated and Andrew Simpson

Visual Art

Invited Artists: Sax Shaw, Kristina Chan, Luci Holland, Theresa Moerman, Koralia Maciej,
David McDiarmid, Tim Sandys, Dee Marshall D'Eath, Oana Stanciu, Jamie and Lewis
Selected Artists: Mark Haddon, Jack McCallum, Camila Cavalcante, Sarah Calmus, Ian
Dodds, Joseph Calleja, Sarah Dale, Rachel Turner, Lotte Fisher, Marion Ferguson & Jennifer
Wicks, Jill Boualaxai, Jenna Corcoran, Wenna Potter, Rachel Hendry, Rachel McBrinn, Liam
McLaughlin, Valerie Reid, Kat Corbet, Mo Kearsley & Martin Elden, Dave House, Miriam
Mallalieu, Jennifer Clews and Livvy Turner

Poetry and Spoken Word

Andrew Blair, INTERROBANG?!, Rebecca Sharp & Phillip Jeck, Annie Rutherford & Rebecca
Dewald, Rachel Plummer (with Matt Hulse, Matt Rogers & Scottish Clairnet Quartet), FREAK
Circus, Sonnet Youth, Loud Poets, Inky FIngers, Shoreline of Infinity and Jenny Lindsay


Contributors including Edinburgh Short Film Festival, UnDependence, Africa in Motion, ECA
Animation, Scottish Queer International Film Festival, MSc Film Exhibition and Curation, Kino
Klub and Dispatch Feminist Moving Image.

Hidden Door Festival, Fri 26 May–Sun 4 Jun, Leith Theatre. Tickets on sale now.

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