Trainspotting to get 21st birthday party to help Leith Theatre rebirth

Irvine Welsh will stage a massive 21st birthday party for the movie version of Trainspotting in the old Leith Theatre.
Irvine Welsh will stage a massive 21st birthday party for the movie version of Trainspotting in the old Leith Theatre.
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Irvine Welsh is to stage a huge party celebrating the 21st anniversary of Trainspotting hitting cinemas to help efforts to reopen a neglected theatre after nearly 30 years.

A special birthday screening of Danny Boyle’s iconic movie is to be staged in Leith Theatre’s auditorium at the height of the Edinburgh Festival.

Irvine Welsh has recruited Danny Boyle for the campaign to reopen Leith Theatre.

Irvine Welsh has recruited Danny Boyle for the campaign to reopen Leith Theatre.

The 1200-strong audience will be urged to get into the party spirit by joining in and even chanting some of the iconic dialogue from the film.

Leith-born Welsh, who will be taking part in a question and answer session, has also promised the world premiere of excerpts of a new novel.

Welsh has joined forces with arts collective Neu! Reekie! to stage the fundraiser, which iconic post-punk band The Fire Engines is reforming for, while celebrated US record producer and DJ Arthur Baker will fly in for an appearance.

Welsh will be making his only public appearance of the festival at the first in what is expected to be a series of major fundraisers for the venue.

The five-hour event on 11 August is expected to be the biggest staged in Edinburgh by Neu! Reekie! founders Michael Pederson and Kevin Williamson. Williamson published Welsh’s work for the first time in the early 1990s in his ground-breaking literary magazine Rebel Inc.

Welsh said: “I kind of don’t really have much to add about Trainspotting, other than I’m still interested in the characters and enjoy writing about them. As long as that vibe is happening with me, I’ll carry on doing so.”

Originally built as a gift to Leith after its controversial amalgamation with Edinburgh in 1920, it was almost destroyed in a war-time bomb blast and nearly sold off in 2004 after falling into disrepair since its closure in 1988.

Welsh was unveiled in January as the patron of the Leith Theatre Trust, which has been given a lease with the city council while it raises funds to restore the building. Rod Stewart, Shirley Manson and The Proclaimers have since been confirmed as ambassadors.

Welsh said: “Leith Theatre is about to come of age again. The loss of city centre venues and the gentrification of Leith, making it no longer a no-go area for tourists, ensure its development as a city-wide resource essential. And it is, and will remain, a hub for the local community.”

Williamson said: “We went to Irvine with the idea of doing a Neu! Reekie! event with him for the theatre and he gave us a date. We thought we would try and do something special.

“It’s really a ‘Trainspotting comes back to Leith’ night.’ We’re not going to put any seats in. We just want people to come along and have a party while the film is on to celebrate the anniversary. We’re really marketing it for locals. We’re trying to sell it out before August.”

Pedersen said the recent use of Leith Theatre for the Hidden Door Festival had helped spark the plans for the August event.

He added: "We've had our eyes on this venue for years as a performance space. We've had a few hard-hat tours. It's been a carrot dangled in front of us for quite a long time. After seeing the formidable nature of how Hidden Door used the venue and how powerful it could be it whet our appetites. It just needed to be a significant show and important occasion to justify going all guns blazing at it. This is it.

"It's a 21st birthday for Trainspotting the movie, but it's also about putting Leith Theatre back on the map. It's going to be a very important venue for Edinburgh. To have a venue of that scale and calibre on that side of town is going to be crucial.

"The event is not in the Fringe programme, it's not going to be in any brochures and it doesn't have any official sanction. We want to put in on slap bang in the middle of August to show Edinburgh can do a show on this scale without having to jump through the Fringe hoops."