IT was bombed during the war and for generations entertained the people of Leith with everything from Moliere to rock ‘n’ roll, hypnotists to variety shows, yet for the past three decades or more, Leith Theatre, nestled away behind Leith Library, has lain neglected.
From tomorrow, as the on-going campaign to bring the venue back to life continues, a new chapter in its history begins when the Hidden Door Festival moves in with a programme of eclectic entertainment.
Returning for its fourth edition, the multi-arts festival brings 10 days and nights of music, theatre, visual art, film and spoken word to the Ferry Road venue.
Derelict for 28 years, Hidden Door are giving the popular Leith venue a new lease of life.
Free to explore every day until 6pm, there’s a chance to trod the boards of the stage where infamous hypnotist Robert Halpern once hanged himself in a makeshift gallows nightly.
You can also discover the dressing rooms where bands such as Mott the Hoople, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC once prepared to rock the Port, and where Rikki Fulton’s Scots Moliere, A Wee Touch of Class, became a firm favourite.
Or just sit in the auditorium once people by generations of Leithers and soak up the atmosphere of a theatre that was once boasted one of the largest capacities in the Capital.
Hidden Doors Festival will also host a series of paid-for evening events, which will bring the abandoned, forgotten spaces of the theatre back in to action as pop-up multi-arts venues.
Irvine Welsh, patron of the Leith Theatre, says, “It’s terrific to see a pop-up counter- culture event like Hidden Door collaborating with Leith Theatre to open up the whole of the building, not just the main auditorium but also all the corridors and dressing rooms, bars and secret nooks that make it such a charming and exciting place.”
Evening entertainment includes music from the likes of Idlewild, Manuela, Hamish Hawk and Dama Scout.
A screening of the classic movie Metropolis with live soundtrack and appearances by Grid Iron, Ludens Ensemble, Sonnet Youth, Inky Fingers and Unforeseen also feature.
The Hidden Door Closing Party on 4 June will feature Tinderbox Collective, the Frontiers Orchestra amongst others.
Full details www.hiddendoorblog.org