Leith’s Custom House Set to Be Backdrop for History Play – Leithers Live

Leith-based Citadel Arts Group announce a new play for Leith this June when the historic Custom House will act as its backdrop. The performances will allow a rare behind the scenes look at the Georgian building that dates back to 1812 and is currently awaiting redevelopment.

The new work, based on the novel Leithers One Family by William Haddow, traces the history of the port from mediaeval times to the present day with characters including bankers, smugglers, fishwives and pickpockets as well as the newer arrival of hipsters. It has been adapted by ten different writers from the Citadel Arts Group, with each episode taking place at a different time in history. The writers are : Hilary Spiers, Susan Chaney, Lizzie MacLeod, Elaine Campbell, Alan Mountford, Jim Brown, Laure Paterson, Rhona McAdam, John Lab and Pamela Hanlon.

The first play takes place in 1398, when the burgesses of Edinburgh effectively took over the profits of trade from the Port of Leith beginning centuries of resentment between Leith and Edinburgh and ultimately depriving the Port of its rightful wealth.

Author William Haddow said “If you look at the geography Leith really should be the capital of Scotland. But Edinburgh realised it had to have access to the sea and so they bought the Shore. It created something like apartheid between Leith and Edinburgh. It’s quite a story.

“The history of Leith is amazing – when you look at what’s involved. There’s no town with the same length and depth of incredible history like it in the whole of the UK.”

The cast, who will be taking multiple roles, comprises Deborah Whyte, Mairi Jayne Weir, Mark Kydd, Stephanie Falls and Gregor Davidson with music provided by Laure Paterson on fiddle and James Bryce on piano.

CEO of Scottish Historic Buildings Trust Una Richards said “As part of our commitment to the community of Leith, we are delighted to welcome Citadel Arts to the Custom House to perform Leithers Live.

“After such a long time in lockdown, it is wonderful that the Custom House is being brought back to life with such an enthusiastic progressive performance.”

Leithers Live is supported by the William Syson Foundation, Leith Benevolent Association and the Robertson Trust and will be performed on 17th and 18th June at 2pm and 7pm.

Tickets available from ftennick@hotmail.com  tel.01875 340717

Irene Brown

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