The Save Leith Walk campaign is, on the face of it, a group trying to save a building from demolition by property developers; the building in question being a nice, but unspectacular red sandstone 1930s building that’s home to lots of local businesses.
But, as the name suggests, this is about more than just one building. This feels like a battle over the soul of Leith. On one hand, you have the community, a melting pot of old and new Leithers, proud, creative, and resourceful, as represented in this building by the likes of Punjabi Junction, the cafe run by the Sikh Sanjog women’s group; Leith Depot, the burgh’s leading music venue; and EEF, an Eastern European supermarket. Then on the other hand, you have the make a quick buck brigade, set to demolish the place and turn it into a hotel and “student” flats, which in due course will become standard buy-to-lets or Airbnbs out of the reach of ordinary Leithers.
It feels like a losing battle. It took them a while, but the gentrifiers and asset strippers have well and truly got their claws in Leith. But Leith’s not going down without a fight, and one Fringe production in particular hopes to do its bit.
Moonlight on Leith is the debut Fringe production by female theatre collective Clarty Burd, made up pf Leithers Laila Noble, Emilie Robson and Laura Grace Caldwell. The play – part poetry, part comedy – is their love letter to Leith.
It is inspired by Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and tells the story of an evening spent from The Shore to the Walk, through the eyes of a narrator. It tells of broken marriages, boozy love affairs, existential crises and run ins with the polis.
The Save Leith Walk campaign became a central part of the narrative after Clarty Burd themselves got involved with it. Spokespeople from the campaign will be speaking at the end of each performance and will receive a slice of the donations made afterwards.
Locals themselves can feel left out of the Fringe, or even worse, pushed out by others. It’s a feeling many Leithers feel when they hear another developer is moving in. Moonlight on Leith helps to kill both those birds with one stone.