Let creativity flourish - by Kevin Jamieson, Harrogate Theatre

Hidden featuring actress and co-writer Laura Lindsay.
Hidden featuring actress and co-writer Laura Lindsay.

In the first of an occasional column, Kevin Jamieson, Harrogate Theatre’s Deputy Chief Executive, looks ahead to an exciting year on the stage

As I write this, our very busy Christmas season has come to an end and we can finally take down the theatre’s festive decorations.

The past two months have been one of our busiest on record, with more than 37,000 people watching a wide variety of live shows, from our colourful panto to the spooky Edith in the Dark (our first solo production of new work in a long time), from Jason Manford’s funnies to A Viennese Whirl’s orchestral loveliness.

It never gets dull to watch staff members, performers, designers and directors working together to make so many great productions and keep all ages entertained.

This ethos of togetherness serves Harrogate Theatres well – which is why we use it all year round, helping smaller companies create shows via our Associate Artist Scheme.

We established this scheme three years ago, to support emerging theatre companies and allow a new wave of writers, directors and performers to create. During that time we’ve worked with countless companies here in Harrogate, as well as on national tours to thousands of people. I’m delighted that we have three exciting and very different supported projects in our Studio theatre to kick-start 2014. First up is Hidden (January 28 Jan to February 1), a show I first encountered in Manchester 18 months ago when I was blown away by the writing and energy of Laura Lindsay, the company’s driving force.

The play’s six interlocking stories focus on people who are all hiding something and I found it so funny, moving and cleverly drawn that I instantly knew we had to get involved.

Since then we’ve helped the show – and the company – to grow. Last summer it enjoyed a sell-out four-week run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; now Harrogate audiences get to see it, and hopefully love it as much as I did.

Menawhile, the superb Penny Dreadful Productions has created a show that has to be one of the most intriguing stories I have ever come across. How To Be Immortal (February 13) has a true story at its core, that of Henrietta Lacks, a woman who, unbeknownst to her family, had a tissue sample taken from her following her death – a sample that led scientists to map the human genome. This promises to be one of those shows you simply can’t miss.

Finally, our oldest associates, Reform Theatre Company, returns with My Romantic History (February 27 to March 8) ) in the play’s first major revival since its 2010 Sheffield premiere. I recently re-read the play and am confident this will be a corker.

As with everything we have a hand in, the audience is key.

New companies producing new work need audiences to see the shows, and to help shape the production.

Be a part of an exciting future by joining us for one – or all – of these exciting new projects.