• Joe Harmston

    Theatre Director. Writer. Consultant.

  • Podcasts

    Talks on theatre, directing, and the arts.

    Further files can be found on soundcloud LINK HERE

    Introduction

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    After thirty years of directing plays around the world, I am putting some thoughts about the craft of directing plays into a series of Podcasts. This is number one.....

    1. Read the play

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    What's the first thing a director should do when preparing a production?

    2. Know where you are going

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    Why do you need to have read the play?

    3. Cooking, love, theatre and Harold Pinter

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    Why are you doing this at all? The Big Why?

    5. Why research matters

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    What is the purpose of research? What are you looking for and the dangers of cat videos.

    'Pussycat' - the delicate art of giving notes.

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    How to talk the language of your actors.

  • 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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  • Biography

    Theatre Productions

    OVERVIEW

     

    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.

    Productions

    2018

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

     

    2017

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

     

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

     

    2016

    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

     

    2015

    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

     

    2014

    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.

     

    2013

    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.

     

    2012

    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.

     

    2011

    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

     

    2010

    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

     

    2009  

    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

     

    2008

    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.

     

    2007

    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

     

    WEST END 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.

     

     

    OTHER No. 1 NATIONAL TOURS

    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.

     

    FRINGE

     

    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.

     

    CHICHESTER FESTIVAL THEATRE

    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

     

    OUT OF LONDON

    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.

     

    EUROPEAN

    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.

    EVENTS

    EVENTS

    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.

     

    2006 THE JOHN BETJEMAN VARIETY SHOW

    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.

     

    2005 ONLY ONE KNIGHT – HAYMARKET THEATRE TSUNAMI GALA

    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.

     

    2004 JUDI DENCH & FRIENDS – THE ROSE THEATRE KINGSTON

    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.

                           

    SIR JOHN GIELGUD CENTENARY GALA Gielgud Theatre for RSC.

    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.

     

     

    ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

     

    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)

     

    OTHER EXPERIENCE

    • 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.

     

    QUALIFICATIONS

    1989-1990 MA in Directing, University of Birmingham

                           

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

    First Class BA Hons.

     

    REPRESENTATION

    Joe is represented in the UK as a director by Amanda Evans at Scott Marshall and as a writer by Diana Tyler at MBA. In the USA he is represented by Susan Gurman.

  • Charity Consultant and Event fundraising

    “The positioning of Kalisher in the foreground of informed debate on justice, societal values, and how important it is that the Rule of Law should prevail is an achievement of which Joe Harmston should be proud. His long-sighted vision has elevated the annual staged reading at Middle Temple to an exercise in critical thinking when the world most needs it. We owe him a great deal.”

    The Rt Hon Lady Justice Rafferty, High Court of Appeal, Chancellor of Sheffield University, Founding Kalisher Trustee.

     

    Since the late 1990s, I have been organising large-scale events as fund and consciousness-raising for major charities. These have mostly been one-off West End theatrical events including large, celebrity casts but in more recent years I have become more intimately involved in the strategic vision of one charity, The Kalisher Trust.

    For Gala events I am able to provide a complete service from envisioning, creating material and assembling high-profile casts, through to staffing, marketing, scheduling and detailed management and delivery on the day. The most complex event I created involved a cast of over 100 (from Hugh Grant to Madness and the Bishop of London) in front of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. It meant liaising with Royal security, the Metropolitan Police, TFL and Air Traffic Control and leading a team off stage of over 150 security, stage management, catering and hospitality staff. The event raised over £120,000 in one evening.

    For The Kalisher Trust I have worked not only to develop the impact of their yearly theatre events but also to position their identity as a significant player in the debates about Criminal Justice by evolving their brand communication and media profile.

    Events I have organised:

    The Kalisher Trust. 2012 to now

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

    The Kalisher Trust, world-premiere play reading events in Middle Temple Hall with casts led by Cate Blanchett, Stanley Tucci, Hugh Dennis, Martin Shaw, Edward Fox, Simon Callow, Jessica Raine, Felicity Kendall, Maxine Peake, Ray Fearon and Jason Watkins.

    ST WILFRID’S BIRTHDAY GALA. 2007

    Chichester Festival Theatre

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

    THE JOHN BETJEMAN VARIETY SHOW. 2006

    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.

    BY CHRISTOPHER! 2005

    Chichester Festival Theatre

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

    ONE KNIGHT ONLY, TSUNAMI GALA 2005

    HAYMARKET THEATRE

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

    JUDI DENCH & FRIENDS. 2004

    THE ROSE THEATRE KINGSTON

    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 . 2004

    Royal Festival Hall​

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

    SIR JOHN GIELGUD CENTENARY GALA . 2004

    Gielgud Theatre for RSC

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

    A GRAND KNIGHT OUT. 1997

    Theatre Royal Bath to open the Studio

    An evening with Sir Peter Ustinov, Alan Bates, and fifty others.

  • Contact

    Agent:

    Amanda Evans at Scott Marshall

     

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