March 3, 2023
Hidden Door has announced their programme for this year’s event, including details of an ambitious series of immersive performances specifically designed for the unique venue, plus music from Porridge Radio, Hot 8 Brass Band, Max Cooper, NiNE8 and Pillow Queens.
The Complex at 15 Dalkeith Road will also host a diverse poetry and spoken word programme and a collection of visual art from Scotland’s best emerging artists over the course of the event from 31 May – 4 June.
Much of the programme focuses on the theme of Environments, responding to the world around us and the impact we’ve had on it.
Environments, which run on all five nights of the event, will create a structured journey for the audience to explore The Complex, with several surprises along the way.
Responding to the vast interior spaces, Hidden Door has commissioned stand-out artists from last year’s festival to create a series of Environments for the audience to explore as they venture deeper into the former office building. Featuring live music, dance, film projections, set design and even opera, each Environment is a unique collaboration bringing together some of the most visionary emerging artists to talk about our natural world in a unique and imaginative way.
Audiences will start their journey in the post-nuclear wasteland created by choreographer Róisín O’Brien and composer Rowan McIlvride where a dance piece will take place.
They will then find themselves in a mountain environment inspired by neighbouring Arthur’s Seat, brought to life by recent Duncan of Jordanstone art graduate Zoe Gibson. Working with dancer Kai Tomioka, she will explore the impact of conflict.
In the next Environment, opera singer Stephanie Lamprea is working with musician Tom Green and visual artist Oana Stanciu to create an Anthropocenic Garden, exploring themes of extinction.
Meanwhile, in a forest of moveable trees, Beijing Dance Academy graduate Yuxi Jiang will bring her contemporary take on Chinese folk dance to create a piece meditating on The Last Leaf on Earth.
As the audience explore deeper into the venue, they will encounter the Sea Bed, courtesy of artist Alliyah Enyo.
Finally, they will end up deep in the geological depths of the earth and its distant past, curated by Edinburgh electronic music producer Exterior.
The audience will experience a surprise element, guided on their journey with performance created by dance theatre maker Tess Letham and costumed by Cleo Rose McCabe.
An eclectic mix of bands will be filling three performance spaces at this year’s Hidden Door, bringing almost every genre of music to the event.
Indie rock band Porridge Radio, Grammy-winning Hot 8 Brass Band, electronica and techno producer Max Cooper, radical pop collective NiNE8, and Irish rock band Pillow Queens will take to the Cabaret Stage over the five nights.
Also performing in the former canteen will be post-punk outfit Pozi, doom jazz trio AKU!, jazz collective Corto.alto, alt-pop singer Berta Kennedy, Edinburgh band Dinosaur 94, and post-punk electronica Sweaty Palms.
The space will end each night with a party hosted by brass band Blue Giant Orkestar, sax and drums duo O., and utopian synth duo Free Love, with more to be confirmed.
Down in the Loading Bay stage, indie band DEADLETTER, rap artist Bemz and alt musician Rozi Plain will entertain audiences. Over the five days, they’ll be joined by indie band Wombo, American rock band Flasher, hip hop artist Billy Got Waves, rapper and singer Jelani Blackman and outsider pop outfit The Microband.
The space will also host six bands selected through an open call, who will perform for audiences during the day on Saturday and Sunday before the event becomes ticketed. They are Goodnight Louisa, Peplo, Blush Club, Josephine Sillars, Rhona Macfarlane and Blair Coron.
In the Club Space, music label Paradise Palms, Afro-Latin club night Samedia Shebeen and women and non-binary DJ collectives Sisu and EPiKA will each host residencies showcasing their roster of talent.
With more bands yet to be confirmed, audiences can expect to see the best of the UK’s burgeoning music scene.
On display inside The Complex will be visual art from a wide range of artists practising in Scotland, much of which will explore the same issues as the Environments.
A series of installation pieces from Becky Hunter, Chell Young, Evie Rose Thornton, Kirsten Millar, Scott Hunter, and Soorin Shin will explore ideas of climate change and industry.
Also on display will be photography from Emily Nicholl, abstract art from Iain H Williams, industrial art from James Sinfield, sculptural forms by Jill Martin Boualaxai, an installation from Jo Fleming Smith, object art from Joan Smith, textile art from Laura Lees, etchings from Madeline Mackay, found billboards from Martin Elden, ice-inspired hangings from Mary Walters, ink drawings from Natasha Russell, sculpture from Ross Andrew Spencer, paintings from Ryan Cairns, and sculpture from Tim Taylor.
Work from recent art school graduates Aimee Finlay, Alice Sherlock, Amy Kim Grogan, Ben Caro and Kat Culter-MacKenzie, Ciaran Cannon, Coire Simpson, Dhira Chakraborty, Irene Aldazabal, Leah Wood, Sarah Phelan, Shae Myles and Sinéad Kempley will also be on display.
This year’s poetry and spoken word programme will showcase a diverse group of new and developing performers from across Scotland and beyond.
On the first day of the festival, writer, poet and researcher Caitlin Stobie will share her writing, and Clare O’Brien will present her work inspired by the natural world and the creatures that wander through it. We also welcome Mexican-Scottish poet, editor and vocalist Patrick Romero McCafferty. Queer writer and spoken word poet Gray Crosbie makes their return to Hidden Door, as does Sean Wai Keung presenting his reflections on identity and migration.
Thursday 1 June sees poet and performance maker Bibi June present post-apocalyptic stories on climate change, while actor and poet Rupert Smith takes inspiration from Shakespeare into his work. Jay Whittaker will perform her irreverent, unsentimental poems looking at mortality, illness and loss. Fiona Robertson will use her poetry to explore some somewhat chaotic interests.
On Friday 2 June, Irish poet Éadaoín Lynch will perform from their debut poetry pamphlet, and Genevieve Carver will present her work in response to dolphins, porpoises and seals. British-Sudanese lyricist and performance poet Zaki El-Salahi will take to the stage, and Sal will perform her work entangling trans and chronically ill experiences with organic processes of decay and birth.
Saturday sees queer Latinx writer Andrés N Ordorica share his writing on the diasporic experience, and Ross McCleary performs his piece advocating for refilling of the Nor Loch. Edinburgh-based US poet Allie Kerper will perform, and Annaliese Broughton also features, fresh from being part of BBC Words First.
The last day of Hidden Door will have performances from Scottish-Canadian poet Patrick James Errington, and Glasgow’s Oliver Robertson. Janette Ayachi will share her musings on searching landscapes and human connection, and Elspeth Wilson will celebrate joy from a marginalised perspective. We also welcome Edwin Morgan Poetry Awardee Alyson Kissner.
Dance theatre maker Tess Letham from Hidden Door team said: “This year Hidden Door is commissioning and producing unique Environments to take the audience on a journey round our vast, maze-like venue. As they explore, they will encounter music, dance, visual art, video projections, and performances that represent different terrestrial habitats.
“I am excited to be playing a key role in the audience’s journey through the Environments, helping them explore the immersive experience.
“This year’s full Hidden Door programme further explores the idea of Environment, inviting poets, spoken word artists, and visual artists to share their understanding of climate change, the world, and our impact on it.
“I hope audiences will take the opportunity to come and explore our wonderful, atmospheric venue and the programme of talent we’re filling it with.”
Hidden Door 2023 is supported by Baillie Gifford and other generous partners and sponsors.
The List are the official media partners for Hidden Door 2023.
Tickets are available via hiddendoorarts.org/tickets or from Citizen Ticket.
Hidden Door is an arts charity which opens up urban spaces to showcase new and emerging artists, musicians, theatre makers, performers, film makers and poets. Through organising temporary events Hidden Door works to show new work and create engaging environments for the public to experience, explore and discover.
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 showcasing local creative talent. In 2015 the festival moved to a hidden courtyard behind Kings’ Stables Road, and returned 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 resurrecting “Scotland’s best new live music venue”, winning VisitScotland’s Thistle Award for “Best Cultural Event”.
In 2018, the festival returned to Leith Theatre, also taking up residence in the derelict former State Cinema, just around the corner. A farewell weekend event took place at Leith Theatre in 2019. During the pandemic, Hidden Door put on a series of online events, and returned with a bang to live events for a five-day outdoor event at Granton Gasworks in 2021. The 2022 festival took place at the former Royal High School where more than 200 artists performed over 10 days.