Hidden Door

Hidden Door brings lost Leith venues to life with 2018 line-up


Hidden Door 2018 (25 May – 3 June) reveals a diverse programme of music, visual art, theatre, film, spoken word and dance with an all-star cast of collaborators.

Returning for its fifth edition, the non-profit and volunteer-run multi arts festival this year returns to Leith Theatre following the huge success of last year’s festival – continuing what was started to transform the building into the major arts venue the city needs. Continuing the festival’s tradition of discovering forgotten spaces, the festival will also take up residency in Leith’s empty and derelict former State Cinema building.

With 10 days and nights of music, theatre, visual art, film, dance, spoken word and special events, the festival will transform these empty spaces with the help of some of the best creative talent from Scotland and beyond.

The two venues will be free to explore every day during the festival until 6pm, with tickets now on sale for the evening events.

The festival has steadily grown in size and reputation since it began in 2014, when it cleared out the abandoned Market Street vaults to run a 9-day arts festival focused on showcasing local creative talent. In 2015 the festival moved to a hidden courtyard behind Kings’ Stables Road, and returned to the same site in 2016, attracting over 12,000 visitors to experience a wealth of art, poetry, theatre, cinema, dance and music. In 2017 the festival breathed new life into the old Leith Theatre, attracting rave reviews and critical praise for its role in resurrecting “Scotland’s best new live music venue”, also winning a VisitScotland Scottish Thistle Award for “Best Cultural Event or Festival”.

2018 programme highlights


Music at Hidden Door steps up a level from previous years. A key highlight must surely be Leith’s own sensations Young Fathers, playing a heady ‘homecoming’ gig after their recent UK tour to support their new album, recorded not far from Leith Theatre. The performance is set to show what this amazing venue is truly capable of.

The programme also features international Grammy award-nominated duo Sylvan Esso with their perfectly poised electronic pop – the product of sheer alchemy between Amelia Meath’s effortlessly acrobatic melodic reflections complimenting Nick Sanborn’s dynamic compositions.

The opening night makes a statement of intent by featuring an all-female line-up curated by The List Magazine, bringing together the unique, powerful female voice of Gwenno, champion of Cornish and Welsh songwriting, plus Stina Tweeddale of Glasgow favourites Honeyblood, Brighton-based punk pop outfit Dream Wife and headliner Nadine Shah, whose jazz-kissed indie rock is described as a blend between PJ Harvey and Nick Cave.

Vox Liminis brings Distant Voices, a project which brings established Scottish musicians into prisons to work creatively with prisoners, to write songs as part of their rehabilitation. The night will bring together a trio of critically acclaimed acts from Glasgow; Mercury Music Prize nominee C Duncan, Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) nominees Admiral Fallow and Scottish indie icon Emma Pollock.

Other highlights include nights curated by Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and The Skinny Magazine, with more acts, collaborations, late night programmes and DJ sets to be announced soon.


The 2018 theatre programme continues Hidden Door’s ethos of supporting new and emerging work. The line-up of 12 different companies features several premieres, as well as new iterations of previously developed material. The programme is an eclectic mix, consisting of a variety of theatre formats and styles including; visual theatre, new writing, puppetry, children’s theatre and lecture theatre.

Alongside talented solo performers, we are lucky to be hosting productions by community-led theatrical groups The Golden Trailer Collective, a group of nurses and mechanics based in Central Belt Scotland, and Theatre Sans Accents, an Edinburgh-based company promoting bilingualism through theatre. Leith’s very own Village Pub Theatre will also be presenting three nights of site-specific mini plays.

Artist and performer Annie Lord will stage ‘Celluloid’, a work of lantern-illuminated lecture theatre in which cinema objects assume identities before and after use. Fiona Oliver Larkin presents ‘Salt’, a solo puppetry show examining the theme of domestic violence, breaking the silence surrounding a difficult social issue.

Visual Arts

After receiving nearly 200 submissions, 31 artists from diverse creative backgrounds have been selected for Hidden Door 2018. The nine invited artists and 22 selected artists are united through their commitment to local communities and an international outlook.

This global focus is exemplified in Silas Parry’s ​practice, which has taken him to Japan, in residencies with Shiro Oni and Studio Kura. Rapidly changing ecology and science-fiction futures are central themes in his work, which shares its manifestly imaginative power with Julia Oborne’s colourful, playful paintings. Whilst Oborne draws upon her Thai heritage to inform the aesthetic features of her work, Josie Rae Turnbull’s time living in Ho Chi Minh City is reflected thematically in the project which she is due to present, a photo series examining ‘the private apparatus of public entertainment’ in Vietnamese theme parks.


The Film programme is once again on a cinematic scale with a glittering line-up of collaborations and guest curators including Africa In Motion, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Kino Klub, New Media Scotland and Scottish Queer International Film Festival.

In a night of vampire thrills, Edinburgh International Film Festival will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the seminal horror-thriller Blade, which stars Wesley Snipes as Marvel’s super-cool vampire hunter, with EIFF Play: Eternal Night, a special expanded cinema event staged in partnership with Hidden Door Festival and supported by Sir Ewan and Lady Brown. This visually spectacular cinematic event will feature hip hop electro beats from DJ Nasty P and DJ EH-1, and will look and feel like walking into the trailblazing film which paved the way for the Marvel universe as it exists today.

New Media Scotland will be helping us mark both the 80th anniversary of the opening of the State Cinema in Leith and the UK release of Disney’s first animated feature – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – by bringing the silver screen back for one very last time in a multi-sensory experience of this classic.

We have also invited Scottish Documentary Institute to screen a special look back at 15 years of their flagship training programme. Every year SDI commission up to six new filmmakers from all over Scotland to make short documentaries on a range of topics. This specially curated collection for Hidden Door showcases the freshest talent from these shores.

Spoken Word

Hidden Door has always sought creative innovation, embodied by the renovation and occupation of neglected spaces. This core concept is mirrored in this year’s spoken word line-up – featuring 13 spoken word artists alongside a Flint and Pitch night curated by Jenny Lindsay and two comedy nights selected by Gilded Balloon.

Interrobang are set to revitalise the concept of ‘local flavour’, taking us on a visit to an alternative history of Edinburgh, via a reinterpretation of the Bible. Duo Poetry as F*ck returns to Hidden Door for a night of “regal night of intrigue, Ferrero Rocher, and murder mystery”.

We are lucky to be showcasing a wealth of strong female talent featuring Iona Lee, Nichola Scrutton with Zoë Strachan, Jen Mcgregor and others. L.A Traynor and Women With Fierce Words will present a multi-media event with spoken word, film and music. Sasha de Buyl-Pisco invites us to the House of 1000 Stories as writers Kirsty Logan, Ryan Vance and Heather Parry explore the unexpected, the uncanny and the weird in an immersive event celebrating the art of the short story.

For the first time, we are featuring comedy as part of our main programme and are pleased to be working with Gilded Balloon as one of several exciting new partnerships and collaborations we have in store for 2018. Over two nights, Gilded Balloon will present a line-up of Fringe favourites as well as a showcase of new material by faces old and new.


Building on last year’s dance showcase, we are proud this year to present a full programme of critically acclaimed and powerful dance performances selected following an open call which attracted 300 proposals from around the world. From this we selected a broad range of innovative dance performance and choreographers from across Scotland as well as a number of special projects from further afield including Lithuania, Italy and South Korea.

Choreographer Janis Claxton and composer Pippa Murphy, along with four world-class dancers, present POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) – 5-minute, contemporary dance duets designed for a wide range of public spaces. Each duet is accompanied by a track of original music specifically composed for the choreography by Pippa Murphy, with vocals by Scottish Album of the Year Award winner Kathryn Joseph.

Award-winning contemporary dance company, Scottish Dance Theatre, under the direction of Fleur Darkin, will showcase their latest show, the sensual and arresting Velvet Petal. Following rave reviews from the show’s opening performance earlier this year, the performance will see the dancers philosophise, seduce and experiment with their bodies, clothing and ideas; all set to a fresh dance-punk score. International award-winning filmmaker and artist Simon Fildes presents Pilgrim; an online video installation based on ideas of journeys, loops and cycle, and brought to life by dance artist Katie Armstrong.

Elsewhere, Indonesian-Netherlands artist Claricia Kruithof’s work explores movement languages, physical memory and the effects of trauma, in a piece which will pop up in unexpected places. All or Nothing will bring breathtaking aerial acrobatics with dance, theatre and contemporary circus on the wall at the back of the Leith Theatre stage. Glasgow-based Leeanne Dobbie is bringing a large, ambitious ensemble performance influenced by her time in Japan.

Special Events

2018 will see an expanded programme of tours, talks, workshops and a full symposium exploring the challenges facing emerging creative artists and performers in Scotland today. Further details will be announced in the near future along with details of how to get involved.


David Martin, Creative Director of Hidden Door, said: “This year, Hidden Door feels like it has firmly established itself in the festival canon in Edinburgh. We are really excited to be working with a number Edinburgh’s acclaimed international festivals, such as Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh International Children’s Festival and Edinburgh International Science Festival – all bringing something surprising and new to the mix.

“We are proud to create a festival which celebrates the innovation and ambitious experimentation that is so strong in Scotland today. I’m delighted to reveal a programme filled with artists who dare to push the boundaries of their artforms, yet who are so young in their careers, and so open to responding to and using amazing, unusual spaces. Hidden Door brings a large, diverse cross section of the creative scene together, and it’s inspiring to see such a range of new talent in Scotland dedicated to creating a mesmerizing and unforgettable experience for our audiences.

Jack Hunter, Chair of Leith Theatre Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with and supporting Hidden Door to deliver their Festival in 2018. Following the success of last year’s partnership, the event will deliver huge benefits for the Leith Theatre project, raising the profile of the campaign and helping our community-led trust to drive forward the regeneration of this important historic and cultural asset. The Festival will further showcase the building’s potential as one of Scotland’s most exciting new music and arts venues.”

Lorna Duguid, Multi-artform Manager at Creative Scotland, one of the festival’s supporters, said: “Hidden Door has once again produced an excitingly ambitious programme encompassing Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Spoken Word, Dance, Film and Comedy. Collaborations including Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and Guided Balloon, and partnerships with The Skinny and The List, all add to the varied programme.

“The Festival creates a dynamic platform for Scotland’s emerging cultural producers and creative talent, supporting and enabling them to make ambitious new work and develop their creative practice. The festival tradition of discovering forgotten spaces is important in raising awareness of the value of the arts, place, identity and the potential resource a dormant space is for the city.”

Mark Adams, Artistic Director, Edinburgh International Film Festival said: “We are thrilled to present our special event EIFF Play: Eternal Night, which will take audiences on an exciting journey into the heart of the Blade legacy, with seamless integration of this trailblazing film into a dark and mysterious vampire club night. Prepare to expect the unexpected! We are delighted to be partnering with the brilliant Hidden Door Festival at the spectacular Leith Theatre – it really will be a thrilling night to remember.”

Yasmin Sulaiman, Editor-in-Chief at The List, said: “Last year’s Hidden Door was one of the highlights of Edinburgh’s cultural calendar. Kicked off by two sold-out nights curated by The List, the festival put Leith Theatre back on the map as a great Scottish gig venue. We can’t wait for Hidden Door’s 2018 return, and to see what they have in store for Great Junction Street’s State Cinema.”

Katy Koren, Artistic Director at Gilded Balloon, said: “Gilded Balloon is beyond excited to be presenting two comedy shows at Hidden Door Festival in 2018. We are incredibly proud to host some of the best local talent as well as those from further afield. Our line ups for Hidden Door feature varied styles of comedy and writing that we think suits what Hidden Door is all about. From those trying out new material in advance of the Fringe to others laying down their very best jokes, there is something for everyone!”

Festival Highlights – at a glance


Young Fathers, Sylvan Esso, Nadine Shah, Gwenno, Romare, Stina Tweeddale (Honeyblood), Dream Wife, C Duncan, Admiral Fallow, Emma Pollock, DJ Food, DJ Nightwave, She Bang Rave Unit. Many more acts to be announced in the coming weeks.


Selected Artists: Annie Lord, Modest Predicament, Tragic Carpet, Rob Jones with Matt Regan, Hannah Jarrett-Scott and Isobel MacArthur, The Golden Trailer Collective, Fiona Oliver Larkin, Alice Mary Cooper, Public Burning Theatre, Rosanna Hall and Drew, Theatre Sans Accents, Company of Wolves, Village Pub Theatre.

Visual Art

Invited Artists: ​Silas Parry, Tess Glenn, Rachel Sharpe, Stephanie Mann, Clara Halstrup, Charlie Cook, Lucy Wayman, Julia Oborne, and Zoe Griffin.

Selected Artists: ​Calum Scott, Camila Cavalcante, Cat Madden, Clara Rider, Daniella Turbin, Emma Rogers, Imogen Hales, Isobel Lutz-Smith & Dorine Aguerre, Jennie Bates, Jill Boualaxai, Josie Rae Turnbull, Louis Mchugh, Mara Marxt Lewis & Tyler Lewis, Marine Lefebvre, Mark Doyle, Martin Elden, Nils McDiarmid, Oana Stanciu, Rachel Turner, Robyn Braham, and Rachael Simpson.


Invited Artists: Janis Claxton, Scottish Dance Theatre, and Simon Fildes.

Selected Artists: All or Nothing, B&B, Claricia Kruithof, CollettivoXL, Elinor Lewis, Éowyn Emerald, Hagit Yakira, Jung In Lee, Leanne Dobbie, Kai-Wen Chuang and Lucas Chih-Peng Kao, Natalia Barua and Owa Barua, Rebecca Namgauds, and SHHE.

Poetry and Spoken Word

Invited Artists: The Unsung.

Selected Artists: Interrobang, Sonnet Youth, Colin Mcguire, Iona Lee, Stuart Kenny, Sascha de Buyl-Pisco, Nichola Scrutton and Zoë Strachan, Bibi June with Ross McFarlane, Ellen Renton and Shannon O’Neill, Jen Mcgregor, L.A Traynor, David Macpherson, Poetry as Fuck.

Curated night from Flint and Pitch, and two nights of comedy with Gilded Balloon.


Collaborations, curated screenings and special events with Africa in Motion, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Kino Klub, New Media Scotland, Scottish Documentary Institute, Scottish Queer International Film Festival.

More info

Hidden Door 2018 runs from 25 May – 3 June at Leith Theatre and the old State Cinema.

Images of the venues and selected artists are available to download here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jvzy1nftj6d7prr/AABUXLghcbuYuPG2mbFxubNPa?dl=0

Tickets go on sale at 10am on Friday 2 March 2018 from http://hiddendoorblog.org/tickets

Hidden Door is an arts organisation which aims to open up urban spaces as a platform for new and emerging artists, musicians, theatre makers, performers, film makers and poets. Through organising temporary events Hidden Door works to showcase new work and create engaging environments for the public to experience, explore and discover.

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