Edinburgh locals have been put centre stage at the Leith Festival as a play celebrating the anniversary of one of the areas landmarks has taken inspiration from lifelong residents.
‘Muriel of Leith’, which is played at the Constitution Bar’s Red Room last week and explores the history and changing landscape of Leith, featured a number of quotes from tenants at three of Bield’s Leith housing developments.
Produced by Edinburgh company SpartaKi, the piece featured North Junction Street’s famous mural as the centre for a story following a Leith family and their changing background.
Writer Jim Aitken visited Manderston Court, Donaldson Court and Gordon Court where he reminisced with tenants and took insight from those who have lived in Leith while finalising the script.
He said: “Everyone at Bield was welcoming and incredibly helpful – they have all lived and loved Leith for a long time and are a part of the areas distinct personality.
“The play is inspired by the 30th anniversary of the North Junction Street mural so I wanted to get a broad view on the way people view Leith and how it has changed.
“My dad stayed with Bield and I knew that their tenants would be able to give me some fantastic insights – they certainly proved me right!”
Taken with the colourful answers he received Jim opted to include quotes from the tenants in the final script.
Wilma Sutherland, who lives at Bield’s Manderston Court, said: “It was great to welcome Jim round to our weekly coffee morning and have a chat with everyone about the experience of living in such a vibrant and unique community.
“It’s exciting to know that they’ll be using some of what we said in the play and I can’t wait to see it for myself.”
Wilma’s featured quote is: “I like plants so I went over the Links to where the tennis courts used to be to have a look at the new garden and there was all these folks going on about organic this and that. I just said to them ‘it’s got leaves and you can eat them. What’s organic about that?’”
Tenants like Wilma exemplify Bield’s ‘Free to Be’ ethos which encourages people to live their lives in the way they choose as much as possible.