Preview: “The Ghosts of North Leith” Explores Historical Connections and Intriguing Narratives

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Unveiling “The Ghosts of North Leith”: A Historical Theatrical Journey

As the Citadel Arts Group prepares to unveil the latest theatrical production, The Ghosts of North Leith, Edinburgh audiences are invited upon an enthralling historical voyage. This performance, inspired by the narratives concealed within the Coburg Street Burial Ground, promises to be an eye-opening experience.

A Historical Discovery: Lily Gladstone’s Connection

Intriguingly, celebrated actress Lily Gladstone, renowned for her role in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, finds herself connected to one of the central characters in this production. Her lineage, it is claimed, has an unexpected link to Nellie Gladstones, a pivotal figure in the play, and a resolute 19th-century businesswoman opposing slave labor.

Unearthing Leith’s Hidden History: The Slavery Connection

Delving into Leith’s historical backdrop, The Ghosts of North Leith explores its entanglement with slavery. It is suggested that, following the abolition of slavery in 1833, John Gladstone, Nellie’s son, received substantial compensation that played a pivotal role in financing the elaborate Gladstone family gravestone in Coburg Street cemetery.

The Narrative Tapestry: Seven Graves, Many Stories

The play skillfully weaves a narrative around the lives of various individuals buried in Coburg Street Burial Ground. Some of these graves belong to prominent figures, such as Lady Anne Mackintosh, who raised troops during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1756. Playwright Rhona McAdam, influenced by the Outlander books, unravels the mystery of Lady Anne’s final resting place in North Leith Burial Ground.

Robert Nicoll: The Conscience of The Ghosts of North Leith

A pivotal character linking these diverse narratives is Robert Nicoll, often likened to the second Robert Burns. Known for his radical activism and journalism, Nicoll’s life was tragically cut short in 1837 at the young age of 33. In the play, Nicoll serves as a moral compass, highlighting the inconsistencies and contradictions of other characters.

A Theatrical Journey Through Time and Emotion

The Ghosts of North Leith aims to deliver a performance enriched with pathos, humour, and music, contributing to the history of the vibrant port city of Leith, a subject of celebration for the Citadel Arts Group for nearly three decades.

Mark Kydd: A Familiar Face Leads the Way

The production is led by Mark Kydd, a familiar face in Citadel’s productions and an adopted Leither. The script underwent a trial reading at Leith Festival in June, and, according to Director Liz Hare, has been further refined based on feedback from the local community.

The Final Bow: North Leith Parish Church

This distinctive performance is set to take place in the North Leith Parish Church, a beautiful Georgian building soon to be released for sale by the Church of Scotland. It offers audiences a final opportunity to experience a live performance in this historical setting.

Event Details and Ticketing Information

  • Venue: North Leith Parish Church, 51 Madeira Street EH6 4AU
  • Dates: November 14, 15, and 16 at 7.30 pm
  • Tickets: Priced at £10/£9, available from or by calling 07770 623 924

The Ghosts of North Leith Cast and Crew

“The Ghosts of North Leith” is the result of the collective efforts of writers Carolyn and Brian Lincoln, John Lamb, Hilary Spiers, Elaine Campbell, and Rhona McAdam, with a talented cast including Mark Kydd, Deborah Whyte, Chelsea Grace, Fraser Allan Hogg, and Grant MacIver. The production’s sound is managed by Roddy Simpson, and costumes are designed by Susan Chaney, with Maggie Brown as Stage Manager and Stewart Emm providing technical assistance.

Citadel Arts Group, a Leith-based theatre company, is known for creating new plays based on local stories and history. The group is supported by the Robertson Trust.