After heavily indulging in the antics at Hidden Door 2016 at King’s Stables last summer we were sad to hear that the festival was changing venues for Hidden Door 2017 – until that is, we heard where the move was going to be taking the festival.
The Old Leith Theatre on Ferry Road might not be as central as King’s Stables but that’s about where the issues start and end. The place feels completely magical. Here are some snaps from JFC's photographer Robbie Ambrose.
It’s absolutely stunning – and the renovation the Hidden Door team have given the building is a shining example of just what the festival represents; a festival created to highlight the local style and talent that the day-to-day Edinburgher might miss.
When you first arrive you’ll be greeted by a wonderfully pleasant outdoor area. Here there’s a bar for chilling during the day – Hidden Door is free to explore from 12-6pm each day before the ticketed events start at 6pm – as well as several street food options from which to grab your lunch or dinner.
Dive inside and one short corridor later will bring you to the enormous main theatre. The room itself is a work of art – right out of 1920s folklore with high roofs, a huge open wooden floor and layers of old seats, some still wobbly, looking down on the stage from the balcony above.
The walls of the balcony above are fitted with impressive paintings, the roof acts as a canvas for the light technicians and every side door you turn into will bring you out in front of more innovation and creativity.
The site remains stripped back and it’s not hard to tell that it’s not been in use for a long time, but that fact adds a whole lot of character, and Hidden Door have embraced it and made use of as many of the extensive side rooms as they could. Lotte Fisher's installation on the balcony floor, part of which is pictured below, is a great example of this, cramming an entire little universe - "Tenzing is a world of strange creatures, structures and landscapes" - into the old ladies bathroom.
Some of the acts and art at Hidden Door this year have been obviously inspired by the history of the venue - Interrobang?'s Phantom-inspired 'Ghosts of the Citadel' and an engaging piece of rooftop artwork called 'Hope in Projection' from Marshall De'Ath in particular spring to mind - while other pieces take less direct inspiration but capitalise on the nostalgia, at times even haunting vibe of the building.
Check out Oana Stanciu's 'Rituals and Repetition' installation when you get along to Hidden Door, pictured below, and you'll see exactly what we mean.
Any Edinburgh local who has not been in the Old Leith Theatre before will be blown away, and if you have been inside it before, we imagine you’ve got quite the story to tell.
Photos by Robbie Ambrose | Words by Stuart Kenny