NEWS:  Edinburgh's Hidden Door festival programme revealed
Credit: Hidden Door Festival

NEWS: Edinburgh’s Hidden Door festival programme revealed

Edinburgh’s Hidden Door festival is arguably one of the most innovative in the UK. It opens up forgotten and abandoned urban spaces for the public to explore and discover music, art, theatre, film, dance, spoken word and more. It began in 2014 at the Market Street vaults and has steadily increased in size over the years. Hidden Door is a volunteer-run charity, with the work funded through ticket sales, sponsorship and fundraising. All money goes straight back into the festival.

For the 2023 edition Hidden Door will transform the former Scottish Widows office complex on Dalkeith Road for a five-day spectacular. It’s a vast complex at six acres and aims to be more immersive and atmospheric than any Hidden Door festival to date. The programme is now live, as the first details of an ambitious series of original, immersive performances specially designed for the unique venue are revealed.

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.

With regards to the music programme an eclectic mix of bands will be filling three performance spaces at this year’s festivals covering a variety of genres.

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.

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 LouisaPeploBlush ClubJosephine SillarsRhona 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.

Incredibly there are still more artists to be announced for the festival.

In terms of visual arts there will be a wide range of artists practising in Scotland, much of which will explore the same issues as the Environments. A series of interactive installation pieces from Becky Hunter, Chell Young, Elvey Stedman, 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, 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. There will also be work from recent Edinburgh School of Art graduates.

With poetry, spoken word and dance elements also included in this years festival, it is a thrilling prospect for Edinburgh across the five days.

For more information on the Hidden Door festival including tickets please check here.

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