Graft is a short storytelling piece from theatre-maker Annie Lord. The performance is part of the diverse and interesting theatre programme at this year’s Hidden Door festival. The intimate Backstage Theatre space is located upstairs in Old Leith Theatre. The once derelict building has been transformed into a fantastic celebration of exciting art, music and theatre. The labyrinth of corridors in the old building may make the Backstage Theatre hard to find, but it is worth the effort.
Graft gives the audience a potted history of Leith and the very venue the audience is sat in. We learn about the local area and how the Botanic Gardens moved from Leith to the city. The art of grafting is also explained. This is “the act of inserting a piece of plant or animal in another individual so as to come into organic union”. The idea of a union is at the heart of Graft and the performer manages to weave together several stories during the show in order to make this eloquent and significant point.
During the performance Lord makes use of an overhead projector. Here she layers up images of botany and plants and creates a visual representation of her beautiful words. At times the performer also uses a slideshow projector that displays images of plants onto a blank screen. Here she interacts with the projections and the show takes on a physical and tangible form. The effect is powerful and engaging and the visual imagery and verbal storytelling work well together.
At a little under thirty minutes Graft does feel very brief and could have been fleshed out to further investigate the past of Leith Theatre and the local area. However, there is enough in the time slot to keep the audience entertained. There is a lot more theatre on at the Hidden Door Festival this year, with performances from Ludens Ensemble and site-specific theatre masters Grid Iron. Annie Lord is presenting Graft again on Saturday 3 June at 19:30. The Backstage Theatre space can only hold a small audience, so it is advised to start queueing early to make sure you get a seat.