THE Colne Valley has long nurtured musicians, actors and other creative talents.
Little wonder then that since putting down roots in Slaithwaite, actor Jamie Smelt has fallen in love with the village and finds it a great place to come home to after touring, sometimes nationally.
He’s off again this week with a new production by regionally-based company Icabod Productions.
This time, the performances are being staged in Bradford, Leeds, York and Otley and so its pretty much doorstep stuff for Jamie.
He was brought up in Hull but got to know West Yorkshire much better when he went to Bretton Hall to study theatre. Jamie finished his training with a first class honours degree in theatre acting and discovered that it was possible for professional performers to live - and work - in the region.
Initially he moved from Leeds to stay with friends in the Colne Valley and ended up settling in Slaithwaite.
“There’s something about Slaithwaite. It’s a world of its own. I found the people in the area really interesting. It’s like an oasis.
“The moonraking festival was on when I was first here and I didn’t think that it would be anything very big. But it was really good. It was amazing just to see so many people about. It’s just a really good, positive thing for a village,” said Jamie.
He’s lived in Slaithwaite now for a year and in recent weeks has been back at work with Yeadon-based Icabod, his fourth appearance with the company. And even in the ranks of Icabod, he’s found strong Colne Valley connections.
“I’ve worked with the company before. I think that the stuff that they are doing is really positive in terms of the range and the involvement of local performers.”
“My first shows with Icabod were Much Ado About Nothing and a piece called Four Nights In Knaresborough.
“When I then did a play with them called A Yorkshire Tragedy I worked with a couple of actors. One of them lives down the road from me in Slaithwaite and the other is in Golcar.”
Many of the cast also share Jamie’s links with Bretton Hall. Since graduating in 2002, and after a brief flirtation with teaching, Jamie decided his real passion was for acting and has worked hard to build up his career.
He’s appeared here in Huddersfield at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, toured nationwide and to Poland with Icabod, and this week is at the Priestley Theatre in Bradford.
Icabod’s new production is Wealth, a fresh look at a rarely performed comedy by Aristophanes.
Newly adapted by Mark France, the piece looks at society’s obsession with status and consumption. It depicts the figure of wealth as a blind old man who gives money to the wrong people. Expect satire, slapstick humour and some strong language.
“It is two and a half thousand years old and is actually very topical. We’ve updated it with quite relevant humour which isn’t all that far away from what has been written.”
“Greek comedy is perhaps not for everybody but we wanted to make this relevant to people. It is every much written in ordinary language.
Performances at The Priestley continue until tomorrow (March 1) when Icabod move on to the Carriageworks in Leeds (March 7-8), the Friargate Theatre in York (March 14) and the Otley Court house (March 15).