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Cultural Commission: James Ley

James Ley is a playwright living in Leith. He studied Acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He was awarded a Creative Scotland Literature Residency at Cove Park in 2011 and was mentored by Nicola McCartney through the Playwrights' Studio, Scotland.

James' trilogy of plays: The Ego Plays are published by Oberon Books. They are I Heart Maths which was first performed at Oran Mor in 2011, Spain which was first performed at the Citizens Theatre in 2011 and Up, first performed at the Vault for Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2009.

He is a founder member of Village Pub Theatre (VPT), a Leith-based writing collective, that presents readings of work in a Leith pub. VPT has collaborated with leading theatre organisations across Scotland including Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, The Traverse, Glasgay! and The Royal Lyceum.


James spent the year working on a new play, Love Song to Lavender Menace.

The play tells the real-life story of LGBT innovators Bob Orr and American-born writer Sigrid Nielsen, who began their careers selling books from the cloakroom of Fire Island nightclub on Princes Street, Edinburgh, now the site of the city’s flagship Waterstones.

By 1982, Bob and Sigrid had made enough money to secure a bank loan, opening Scotland’s first LGBT bookshop, Lavender Menace, in a basement just off Broughton Street. In 1987, the groundbreaking bookshop migrated to Dundas Street, changing its name to West & Wilde to honour LGBT writers Vita Sackville West and Oscar Wilde.

With a street-level window displaying the cream of LGBT literature to passing New Towners, the bookshop became a valuable social space for Edinburgh’s LGBT community and attracted visitors from all over the world before its closure in 1997.

James presented a rehearsed reading at the Traverse Theatre during LGBT History Month in February 2016.


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