• Joe Harmston

    Theatre Director. Writer. Consultant.

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  • Biography

    Theatre Productions



    I am a storyteller.


    I have devoted 30 years to making stories on stages around the world for audiences of millions of people. I believe that stories are successful only when they excite, question and provoke. My theatre grows out of challenging collaborations between practitioners who bring the rigours of their talents together to deliver visually stunning, entertainingly intelligent productions.


    My directing career began in 1993 with the critically acclaimed King James’ Ear at The Old Red Lion. Since then I have directed over 100 productions around the world and forged associations with some of British theatre’s most significant voices including Harold Pinter, Ronald Harwood, Michael Frayn, Trevor Nunn, Peter Hall, Peter Ustinov and Bill Kenwright. I have been in demand not only as a director, but also as a consultant on new writing projects and have directed the world premieres of several plays and musicals (most recently the five-star-reviewed The Prodigals: A Man Had Two Sons at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival). At one end of my work I created and ran the hugely commercially and critically successful Agatha Christie Theatre Company with Bill Kenwright and Julius Green while at the other end of the spectrum I have been a career-long champion of new writing projects.


    Highlights have been The Lover and The Collection which I directed at The Donmar Warehouse starring their writer, Harold Pinter. (“Joe Harmston directs this ice-cold gem of a play (The Collection) with immaculate precision. The Lover is equally compelling. They are without doubt, the most disturbingly erotic dramas on the London stage.” Charles Spencer - The Daily Telegraph. “Twenty-four carat theatre. Not to see these plays would be worse than a crime.” John Peter - The Sunday Times) and the world premiere of King James’ Ear by Rod Dungate (“Only rarely do all the facets of a single production combine to produce such a fine cut crystal as this one, flashing with fire and clarity for two-and-a-half memorable hours. - Time Out.)


    More recently I was nominated by the TMA as Best Director for my 2012 ‘riveting reassessment’ of Strindberg’s The Father at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, starring Olivier Award winners Joe Dixon and Katy Stephens and written by Laurie Slade.


    I am currently preparing my UK production of DRACULA with The Touring Consortium as well as developing several new play scripts with writers, three new musical ideas with producers and venues and a number of TV and screenplay projects with production companies.



    DRACULA UK national tour for The Touring Consortium starting Cheltenham Everyman Sept.



    HARD TIMES by Stephen Jeffreys. Welsh tour for Lighthouse Theatre.


    MISS NIGHTINGALE a new musical by Matthew Bugg. The Vaults Theatre, London



    DRACULA by Steven Deitz after Bram Stoker. Bangkok and Singapore. Produced by Ewing Entertainment.


    THE TRIAL OF JANE FONDA by Terry Jastrow. Starring Anne Archer. The Park Theatre, London



    MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL by TS Eliot. Temple Church, London with Philip Franks and Christopher Ravenscroft.


    AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie. 10th year long national tour by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company



    BLACK COFFEE by Agatha Christie starring Robert Powell. 9th year long national tour by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company


    THE MUMMY by Jack Milner. World premiere of a new comedy-horror version of Bram Stoker’s classic. Belgrade Theatre Coventry and The Booking Office.



    GO BACK FOR MURDER by Agatha Christie. 8th year-long national tour by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company


    THE PRODIGALS: A MAN HAD TWO SONS. Further developed full-length version in full production. Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


    THE DEAD WAIT by Paul Herzberg. London premiere of award-winning play about the 1980s war in Angola. Park Theatre, London. Snapdragon Productions.



    THE FATHER by August Strindberg. World Premiere of a new version of the play commissioned by Joe from Laurie Slade. Belgrade Theatre Coventry. Nominated TMA Best Director.


    MURDER ON THE NILE by Agatha Christie. 7th year-long national tour by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company.


    THE HANDYMAN by Sir Ronald Harwood. Starring Timothy West with filmed inserts from Vanessa Redgrave and Steven Berkoff. Yvonne Arnaud and national tour.



    THE PRODIGALS: A MAN HAD TWO SONS. World Premier of new Dub-Step Dance Musical co-written by Joe Harmston and Ray Goudie at The Gilded Baloon, Edinburgh Festival. **** The Times and What’s On Stage, ***** The New Current, Edinburgh Guide and One 4 Review. ‘Explosive, stunning, riveting’ – The Edinburgh Guide.


    STAR QUALITY by Noel Coward. Seven month National Tour.


    ALARMS & EXCURSIONS by Michael Frayn. National Tour.


    VERDICT by Agatha Christie. Sixth year-long national tour by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company



    IF I WERE YOU by Alan Ayckbourn. National Tour


    QUARTET by Ronald Harwood. National Tour. Starring Timothy West, Susannah York, Gwen Taylor, Michael Jayston


    WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION Fifth year long national tour by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company



    MURDER ON AIR Devised by Joe Harmston from Agatha Christie’s radio plays, starring Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove


    THE GRASS IS GREENER by Hugh and Margaret Williams.

    National tour with Chris Casenove, Jack Ellis, Liza Goddard and Sophie Ward.


    TONS OF MONEY by Alan Ayckbourn. National tour.


    SPIDER’S WEB by Agatha Christie. Fourth national tour by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company.


    MAGIC TREE HOUSE: THE MUSICAL year-long USA national tour.


    SLEUTH by Anthony Shaffer. Starring Simon MacCorkindale and Michael Praed for Bill Kenwright



    AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie. Starring Gerald Harper, Alex Ferns, Chloe Newsome, Dennis Lill, Peter Burn and Mark Wynter. Third year-long national tour of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company.



    MAGIC TREE HOUSE:THE MUSICAL World Premiere in USA of new musical based on the 60 million copy best-seller children’s book series by Mary Pope Osborne.Book and lyrics by Will Osborne, Music by Randy Courts


    THE UNEXPECTED GUEST by Agatha Christie. Starring Simon MacCorkindale Second national tour of Agatha Christie Theatre Company


    HAY FEVER by Noel Coward. Starring Stephanie Beacham and Christopher Timothy for Peter Hall Productions



    2003 WAIT UNTIL DARK by Frederick Nott. Garrick Theatre. London. Starring Peter Bowles and Saskia Wickham


    1999 THE BIRTHDAY PARTY by Harold Pinter. Piccadilly Theatre. With Timothy West, Prunella Scales, Salisbury, national tour and, London.


    1998 THE COLLECTION & THE LOVER by Harold Pinter Donmar. With Harold Pinter, Lia Williams, Douglas Hodge and Colin McFarlane


    1996 A TALENT TO AMUSE. Vaudeville Theatre Peter Greenwell’s one man show of Noel Coward songs, poems and anecdotes at the.




    2006 THE HOLLOW by Agatha Christie. First National tour for The Agatha Christie Theatre Company


    2005 WAIT UNTIL DARK Post West End tour of Garrick Production


              THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE by Alan Ayckbourn


    2003 THE BLUE ROOM by David Hare. First National Tour of the play.


    2002 RELATIVE VALUES by Noel Coward. Starring Susan Hampshire and Michelle Gomez. National tour for Theatre Royal Bath Productions


    1999 THE KINGFISHER by William Douglas Home. With Tony Britton and Rosemary Leach. National tour for Theatre Royal Bath Productions.




    2005 JOE & I a new play by Laurie Slade about Terence Rattigan, Joe Orton and Oscar Wilde. Kings Head Theatre starring Peter Bowles


    2002 THE LAST OBIT by Peter Tinniswood. The New End Theatre, London


    2000 THE GUESTS AND GOODBYE KISS by Ronald Harwood. The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond


    1998 PLAY by Samuel Beckett. The Riverside Studios, London


             BLUE WINDOW by Craig Lucas. The Old Red Lion, Islington. Critics’ Choice Time Out


    1997 VORTIGERN The Great Shakespearean Forgery for Tour de Force Ltd. The Bridewell Theatre, London


    1993 KING JAMES’ EAR by Rod Dungate. Old Red Lion, Islington. Critics’ Choice Time Out


    FOR TOUR DE FORCE LTD (The company Joe led with actor, James Simmons and businesswoman, K Newman)

    2004 HENRY V National Tour with pro/community casts.


    2003 MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Arundel Festival, New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, and schools tour in UK.


    2002 COMUS by John Milton. Modern interpretation for Milton Simposium. South Carolina. USA


    2001 MACBETH Castle grounds Arundel Festival, Ross on Wye Festival and Connecticut, USA.


    2000 HENRY V Castle grounds Arundel Festival.



    Aug 1994 THE CRAFT OF COMEDY, with Patricia Routledge, Minerva


    1996 BEETHOVEN’S TENTH. Main Stage. With Sir Peter Ustinov, John Neville, Liz Robertson


    2000 A STRING OF PEARLS a new play by Pearl Goodman. Minerva



    2006 PRIVATE LIVES by Noel Coward. With Caroline Langrish and Adrian Lukis. Theatre Royal Windsor.


    2001 BOORSKALE world premier of a new musical by Paul Tomkinson. Palace Theatre Westcliff.


    1997 A SIMPLE HEART. The letters of Flaubert and Sand. Arundel Festival


    1995/6 BRIGHT STAR - A LIFE OF JOHN KEATS, by Bill Dufton. Arundel Festival and tour.



    2003 INTENT TO MURDER by Leslie Sands. Vienna


    93/94 OUR SONG by Keith Waterhouse

    Starring Vassia Panagopolou and Angelos Andronoplous

    Co-directing with Ned Sherrin, Moussouris Theatre, Athens.



    2012-Now As Artistic Director of the legal charity, The Kalisher Trust, have created events in Middle Temple Hall with casts including Stanley Tucci, Hugh Dennis, Felicity Kendall, Martin Shaw, Ray Fearon and Jason Watkins.


    2007 ST WILFRID’S BIRTHDAY GALA Chichester Festival Theatre

    with a cast including Patricia Routledge, Christopher Timothy, James Bolam, Geraldine James, Teatro, Jonathan Ansell, Dean Gaffney and Paul McGann.



    Royal gala performance in presence of TRHs Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. Hosted by Barry Humphries and including Jools Holland, Joanna Lumley, Hugh Grant, Griff Rhys Jones and cast of other stars numbering 85.


    2005 BY CHRISTOPHER! Chichester Festival Theatre

    Gala to recall the life and work of Christopher Fry. Cast including Dame Judi Dench and Sir Donald Sinden.



    Charity gala. Cast including: Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins, Joan Plowright, Helen Mirren and Sir Anthony Sher, Kevin Spacey and Joan Collins among others.



    A gala evening to launch Sir Peter Hall’s new theatre. Cast including; Judi Dench, Charles Dance, Harold Pinter, Tim Pigott Smith, Martin Jarvis


    THE WORD BITES LIKE A FISH Royal Festival Hall

    An evening of Stephen Spender poetry with Harold Pinter, Seamus Heaney, Tony Harrison and Vanessa Redgrave.



    With Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Alan Bennett, Peter Hall, Paul Scofield, Ian Richardson, Martin Jarvis, David Hare, Ned Sherrin


    2003 CHILLER- AN ADVENTURE IN FROZEN FOOD A launch show for Birds Eye Walls. Wrote, directed, designed and produced.


    1997 A GRAND KNIGHT OUT Theatre Royal Bath to open the Studio. An evening with Sir Peter Ustinov, Alan Bates, and fifty others.





    2009 CYRANO DE BERGERAC Director Trevor Nunn. Starring Joseph Fiennes at Chichester Festival Theatre


    2006 HAY FEVER Director Sir Peter Hall. Starring Dame Judi Dench and Peter Bowles. Theatre Royal Haymarket for Bill Kenwright


    2005 YOU NEVER CAN TELL by GB Shaw Director Sir Peter Hall Starring Edward Fox. Theatre Royal Bath Productions. National Tour and Garrick Theatre


    2005 THE HOME PLACE by Brian Friel Director Adrian Noble Sir Tom Courtenay at The Comedy Theatre. Sonia Friedman Prods.


    2005 WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY? by Brian Clark Director Sir Peter Hall.Sonia Friedman & Mark Rubinstein. Starring Kim Cattrall Comedy Th.


    1996 TWELVE ANGRY MEN by Reginald Rose Director Harold Pinter (Bristol Old Vic and Comedy Theatre)


    1995-6 COMMUNICATING DOORS Writer/Dir Sir Alan Ayckbourn (Gielgud Theatre)


    1995-1996 TAKING SIDES Director Harold Pinter (Minerva, Richmond, Bath and Criterion Theatre)


    1995-1996 THE HOTHOUSE Director David Jones (Minerva. Redirected for tour and Comedy Theatre)


    1995 HOBSON’S CHOICE Director Frank Hauser (Main House, national tour and Lyric Theatre)



    • I am Associate Creative Director at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry where I work to develop commercial theatre producing partnerships.
    • Resident Director of Chichester Festival Theatre from 1994 – 97 working under Patrick Garland, Duncan Weldon and Sir Derek Jacobi.  Transferred over forty productions on to tour and into the West End.
    • Chief Executive of THE IDEAS FOUNDRY; a company dedicated to raising funds to invest in the promotion and development of new writing and composing for the stage.
    • Artistic Director of TOUR DE FORCE LTD from 1993 - 2006.
    • Company Manager for Triumph Proscenium Productions Ltd on shows on tour and in The West End.
    • Production Assistant (and some time stunt double) to Dawn French on MURDER MOST HORRID, for Talkback Productions, Producer Jon Plowman.
    • He has been a Guest Director at The RADA, Webber Douglas Academy, Guildford School of Acting, Eastern Connecticut State University, University of South Florida, and Birmingham University.



    1989-1990 MA in Directing, University of Birmingham


    1986-1989 BA Drama and Theatre Arts Course, University of Birmingham

    First Class BA Hons.



    Joe is represented in the UK as a director by Amanda Evans and Sarah Mowat at Scott Marshall.


    Holborne Studios. 49/50 Eagle Wharf Road. London. N1 7ED. +44 (0) 20 7637 4623



    As a writer by Diana Tyler at MBA, and in the USA he is represented by Susan Gurman.

  • Writing

    Feature article for Man London Magazine

    'Lines in the sand' Politics/Saudi Arabia

    The British establishment has long enjoyed a special relationship with Saudi Arabia's ruling Al Saud family, but what do the Windsors offer Riyadh and should the UK conduct business with a country of notorious brutality?

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    Bollocks to the pause

    working with Harold Pinter

    My first experience of directing Pinter's work was at university twenty-five years ago, when I was given The Lover to direct as an exercise. I was daunted by the prospect because of the vast mythology surrounding his work. How long is a pause? What does dot, dot, dot mean? How do I make it menacing and ambiguous and like snatches of conversation overheard on the bus? Should it be funny?

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  • The Kalisher Trust is a legal charity whose motto is ‘inspiring advocacy’. Our goals are those of the women behind the landmark case in 1913; to seek out and support the brightest and the best future advocates whatever their gender, social, ethnic or cultural background to ensure that our justice system is as diverse and accessible as possible.


    Every year we organise a fundraising gala production in the ancient heart of the legal community, Middle Temple Hall, starring our many supporters from the world of theatre, TV and film including Martin Shaw, Maxine Peake, Stanley Tucci, Felicity Kendall, Ray Fearon, Sophie Ward and Hugh Dennis to name but a few. Click here for more information

    Land of the Free

    Holly Legend Cate Blanchett leads in world premiere of Land of the Free by Diane Samuels

    Middle Temple Hall is used to theatricals — and not just from its barrister members. In 1602 it was the venue for the first performance of Twelfth Night, and the head of criminal justice, Sir Brian Leveson, has also performed there. But never before has it played host to a Hollywood A-lister yelling “F*** you". On Sunday 24th March Cate Blanchett graced the hall to star in the world premiere of The Land of the Free, a radio-style play performed to raise money for the Kalisher Trust, which helps students from non-traditional backgrounds to train for a career at the Bar. Speaking to The Brief after the performance, Blanchett said: “When I learnt about the work of the Kalisher Trust it just seemed so foundational in changing the nature of the make-up of the legal profession and making it more inclusive.” On the play, she added: “It’s talking about a whole lot of grey areas which the law has to uphold and delve into – things aren’t black and white.”

    Catherine Baksi. Freelance journalist www.legalhackette.com.

    The Liberty Truck

    Colonial Kenya, at the tail-end of World War Two. A young European servicewoman is brutally murdered. A young African man stands accused. As the legal proceedings work towards their conclusion – is British justice itself on trial?

    In a year which has already seen reports on the effects of racial bias in the law and areas of public life from David Lammy and the government’s Race Audit, the Kalisher Trust theatre event hopes to provoke debate about the present by turning its dramatic searchlight on a case from the past. A cast to include: Simon Callow, Hugh Dennis, Ray Fearon, Edward Fox, & Honeysuckle Weeks. Performance on Sunday 4th March 2018 at Middle temple Hall.

    The Disappearance of Miss Bebb

    The pioneering women fighting the Bebb v The Law Society case had to battle extraordinary prejudice from the male legal and parliamentary establishment but despite endless setbacks over nearly a decade they finally prevailed to allow the equality of entrance we have today.

    Laura Main led the cast of THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MISS BEBB at Middle Temple Hall on 2nd April 2017. She was supported by Hugh Denis, Jason Watkins, Sir Brian Leveson, Ray Fearon, Martin Shaw, David Osmond, Martin Fisher, Mark Rose.

    Send for Paul Temple

    Send For Paul Temple was the world premiere of the only stage play written by Paul Temple creator, Francis Durbridge.

    Written in 1940 but never performed because a bomb destroyed the theatre it was scheduled to open in, the piece is a classic sleuth adventure in which suave gentleman detective, Paul Temple (played by Hollywood star Stanley Tucci), battles cunning underworld villains aided by Scotland Yard and, for the first time, his companion the investigative journalist Steve Turner (actress Sophie Ward).

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