Poetry and Spoken Word preview – Hidden Door 2022

Hidden Door will be bringing a diverse range of poets and storytellers to the Royal High School in June, with a spoken word programme representing Scotland and beyond. 

The performers will be taking to the unique Pianodrome stage: a 78-seater, 10m diameter circular structure of tiered seating, built from over 40 pianos which are past their play-by date.

At a glance

Night by night

Night 1: Thursday 09 June

Plunging the Pianodrome into darkness, Sarah Boulton’s layered works of text and poetic textual documentation will take you on a visual and sensory journey.

Night 2: Friday 10 June

Perth-based Natalie Jayne Clark and Nicole Tait will be bringing a boundary-pushing combination of spoken word and poledancing , centring a feminist exploration of folk tales, witchcraft, and the duality of power and vulnerability of the human body.

Night 3: Saturday 11 June

Sean Wai Keung will be making a bit of a mess during KNEAD, an unexpected immersive performance where he tells stories of mixed-identity, cultural exchange, and bread-sharing – all while mixing, kneading, and baking bread in front of the audience.

Esyllt Angharad Lewis and Frances Mary Driscoll present Neoni Peoni, a collaborative, multilingual performance of structured readings and improvised dialogues in Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, highlighting minority language concerns, resisting English hegemony, and building a dialogue across margionalised Celtic languages.

You Can’t Raise a Child on Poetry Alone, by Scott Redmond, will tell the poignant yet humorous story of the experience of eating disorders as a male in the Romany community and mental health care in Scotland over the past decade, through a performance of spoken word set to live music.

Night 4: Sunday 12 June

Sunday offers a feast for the senses. Texture’s one man show Come Back As Fire will experiment with spoken word and sound design to explore the impossibility of utopian futures in a darkly political cyberpunk adventure. Plus, Liz MacWhirter presents Blue, an immersive long verse narrative spoken amidst an abstract film of the sea. 

There will also be a performance by Jennifer Wong, Jinhao Xie, Tim Tim Cheng, L Kiew, and Ryan Van Winkle’s Poetry Workshop participants called Grans! A Poetry Party + Open Mic to Celebrate Our Elders.

Gray Crosbie will be presenting their new solo spoken word theatre performance Lycanthropy, funded by Creative Scotland, which imagines a world of modern day werewolves as a means of exploring transness, masculinity, and toxicity.

Night 8: Thursday 16 June

Miss Leading will present Another Universe, a poetic imagining of alternative lives set against the backdrop of lockdown, an immersive storytelling experience which will be the first live performance of this show.

Night 9: Friday 17 June

On Hidden Door 2022’s penultimate night of poetry, Imogen Stirling will perform extracts from LOVE THE SINNER, an exciting blend of long-form poetry and hip-hop created in collaboration with London-based singer-songwriter and producer Sarah Carton, which narrates extraordinary and un-extraordinary characters struggling to comprehend identity and humanity in a critical world.

Combining spoken word and minimalist ambient music, Julia Sorensen will explore the experience of moving to and living in Scotland.

Night 10: Saturday 18 June

Through her interactive, mixed media, and spoken word performance, AN ATLAS TO NOWHERE, Victoria McNulty will be simultaneously critiquing modern approaches to urban regeneration and experimenting with organic audience participation in spoken word theatre. T Person’s Dictation Poems will take a similarly experimental approach to spoken word, with speech-to-text-software transcribing intimate poems as they are read aloud. Oliver Robertson, who started performing spoken word during lockdown, will perform a selection of his humorous yet thought provoking poetry, recounting tales from his upbringing in the East End of Glasgow.

Plus, performance poet Iona Lee and DJ Nikki Kent present Wax Lyrical: a spoken-word cypher; an off-the-cuff collaboration; an entirely spontaneous tapestry of music and poetry.

Alyson Kissner, Spoken Word Programmer for Hidden Door 2022, said: “We had more performers apply to Hidden Door than any year before, and narrowing them down to a select few felt a bit like its own art. In the end, it meant the acts that came through really had to blow us away, and we could not be more excited to offer them a platform.   

“From incorporating music to playing with light (and total darkness), from bread baking to pole dancing, our chosen performers have managed a rare thing – to make what is broad feel personal and to make what is personal reflect on the world outside. There are looks back at the past, considerations of alternate timelines and imagined futures, and critical eyes on our lives as they are.

“These stunning voices showcase some of the UK’s best emerging and established poets. The programme is guaranteed to be a transformative event.”

It was announced in January that this year’s Hidden Door will take place in the former Royal High School on Calton Hill, transforming the vast, forgotten complex into a vibrant ten day multi-arts festival from 9 – 18 June 2022.

Hidden Door are working in partnership with the new National Centre for Music.

Hidden Door 2022 is supported by Baillie Gifford and other generous partners and sponsors.

The Skinny are the official media partners for Hidden Door 2022.

Edinburgh brewer Innis & Gunn is sponsoring this year’s festival and will be pouring a selection of their premium beers at bars across the site. 

The full program of Hidden Door 2022, including live music, visual art, dance, theatre, and spoken word, can be found on the Hidden Door website and the main programme release.

Tickets are available via hiddendoorarts.org/tickets or from Citizen Ticket.