Finding my future path, by Kirsten Yates, Nov 2018

Jabberwocky Market as a project has been described as something for people in a space of transition, which is exactly where I was in 2014. I had returned to Darlington after completing my degree in Fine Art at Newcastle University and had no clue what was going on in my hometown. I heard about Jabberwocky Market through Darlington for Culture, a local volunteer group who put me in contact. I was looking to keep in touch with the creative industry and Jabberwocky Markets helped me do just that.

I began volunteering, helping out in a few ways from helping decorate the Hub to standing in a tent handing out flyers (more fun than one would think), and talking to people I probably wouldn’t have otherwise engaged with. You can see a little clip of me talking about it in this video from all that time ago (I’m about 1 minute in).


My first Jabberwocky Market event was a dance show called Solas Fae, I feel it’s important to note that I don’t come from a theatre background and honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. It was set in the Cattle Market on a cold October day but it couldn’t have been a more warming and brilliant experience. I had gone in with a perception of what I thought theatre was, and this could not have been any further from that thought. My definition had changed for the better, and I continued to witness more brilliance as the seasons continued.

As the seasons progressed and I became more involved and began paid roles such as  Distribution manager; creating the Jabberzine (a zine of all things jabber, and local goings on); and generally supporting the planning and execution of the events. Each of the roles had a different set of skills some of which were brand new to me and others I already had to develop on, I think what I’m trying to say is, I’m constantly learning and developing.

In 2017, I began the role of Project Coordinator of ‘Our Line’, “A story you can listen to on the train from Darlington to Bishop Auckland” by Hannah Bruce & Co. This was my first experience of project management, although challenging it was very rewarding to work on such a great project that we could see was enjoyed by all those who took part.

Fast forward to today, I’ve just finished my 8th season of Jabberwocky Markets and by now have seen my fair share of brilliant theatre, some of my personal favourites have included:

  • THIS IS HOW WE DIE, by Christopher Brett Bailey

  • Backstage in Biscuit Land, by Touretteshero

  • Reassembled, Slightly Askew, by Shannon Yee

  • At The End Of Everything Else, by Make, Mend & Do

  • The Castle Builder, by Kid Carpet & Vic Llewellyn

As you can therefore see, the theatre I enjoy very often doesn’t conform to the red velvet reputation.

The past 4 years have been an exciting, stressful, wonderful, inspiring and a constantly developing journey. I began as a volunteer not knowing where my career path would lead, to now Trainee Producer, which (hopefully) will lead to a producing role. I am currently assisting the developing project called “Luxi Asks”, which will be running on the trains between Darlington and Saltburn in November/December as part of “The Big Conversation” for Tees Valley’s City of Culture preparations.

I found Jabberwocky Markets during my stage of transition and I’m happy to report that I’m feeling pretty settled on my current path.

– Kirsten Yates