The festival brings together an absurd array of talent over its huge 10 day run, and it does so in a way that perfectly showcases local resources and talent – both emerging and established – to an audience who might have otherwise missed what was right on their doorstep.
The fourth edition of Hidden Door kicked off last week. We got along to days three and four (May 28 & 29) and they didn’t disappoint.
The venue for Hidden Door 2016 at King’s Stables played a big part in making the festival so special last year - and though it's a little out of the city centre, the Old Leith Theatre on Ferry Road is doing exactly the same this year. The theatre - bombed heavily in World War Two - had lain dormant since the 80s until the Hidden Door team put together an impressive renovation project.
The result is a venue that takes your breath away as soon as you enter. After having a look around the endless winding corridors and stripped-back rooms of the theatre, all of which are densely packed with innovative and thought-provoking artwork (there’s even exhibitions in side-rooms on the roof of the building), we settled in to catch ‘Flint and Pitch Presents’ in the main theatre.
She introduced the likes of Neu! Reekie! organiser Michael Pederson who performed engaging, intricate, Scottish poetry. Ellen Renton delivered beautifully-written, perfectly-timed lines with the backing of guitarist Ross Patrizio. Glaswegian musician Heir of the Cursed provided some spiritual and eclectic music and A New International brought a carnival to the stage with their troop of musicians.
Flint and Pitch put on regular shows; both variety-style ‘Presents' shows monthly in Edinburgh and bigger ‘Review’ shows at the Lyceum Theatre. It’s a great example of how Hidden Door takes its cues from the already vibrant communities in Edinburgh. As well as Flint and Pitch, nearly every spoken word night in Edinburgh (and some beyond) have a feature slot at some point at Hidden Door – the fantastic Loud Poets, Interrobang? and Inky Fingers to name but a few. You could arrive having never seen poetry before and leave with a new passion and a working knowledge of the whole scene.
It’s similar across the board too. We watched a variety act from Shoreline of Infinity in the Speakeasy – an eclectic room tailor-made for cabaret. Shoreline of Infinity, we learned, are the go-to in Scotland for science fiction poetry, prose and performance. Their acts comprised theatre, song, poetry and even an improvised performance from a BAFTA-winning cellist interpreting the artwork commissioned for Shoreline of Infinity’s magazine.
Firstly ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’, the first feature-length animation film ever made (Germany, 1926) was screened with a live score from three guys in a group called Sink, who were originally commissioned by the Filmhouse to form this project. Their violins, saxophones, accordions and more complimented the beauty of the silhouette-style animation on screen.
‘Metropolis’, another German film from the 1920s, screened the next night with a sensational, pulsing industrial score from four-different producers, all playing live. It was mesmerising.
There are some big names on the line up too of course. Idlewild played the second night and Anna Meredith opened on the first night. And there’s an abundance more to come to you may have heard of or you may have not. Either way, they're sure to impress.
Between two days of the ten-day festival alone we’ve taken in rooftop artwork, edgy graphics, an abundance of spoken word poetry, sci-fi cabaret, theatre, live music, animation, silent cinema and had some really engaging conversations about what a community needs to thrive in the art world as well. We’ve also had a good few pints of Thistly Cross at the bar outside.
We can’t say enough for the diversity across the festival. There’s a brilliant mixture of high-production showings you just wouldn't see gathered together under any other circumstances and just as many more personal but equally as impressive, engaging performances to go with them.
Our advice? Get along to Hidden Door as often and as soon as you can. You might find a new love; a new style of music or a new form of art that you never knew existed. There’s a real possibly that you quite genuinely do not know what you’re missing.