Actor and director Nicholas Collett, who brings his one-man show Your Bard to The Courtyard on June 23, has been a regular visitor to the city for more than 20 years and played the dame in the annual panto four times.

His relationship with the venue began back in the nineties when he was playing Dromio in Comedy of Errors: "The new artistic director of The Courtyard, Jonathan Stone, booked the show and then asked if I'd ever played the dame in panto as they needed one for that year's Mother Goose!" It would be the final show performed in the old Nell Gwynne Theatre, and, says Nick "I like to say I closed the theatre!"

He also has his own memento of the occasion, having been given access to the old swimming pool on top of which the theatre had been built. "I still have a tile from the pool to this day."

Back to the present, and Nick will be back in Hereford with his own take on Shakespeare. "I wrote Your Bard in Florida in January 16 as part of a bursary funded writing retreat called Escape to Create, which was the lucky result of meeting two of the organisers when I was in Kansas City doing the British Invasion Festival. I'd been several times and was running out of shows and was being asked what I was going to do next. Marsha and Kate suggested I apply for Escape to Create to write another one. So myself and my writing partner Gavin Robertson went over for the whole of January 2016 and I pulled together the threads of something that I'd effectively been working on for most of my career - working with Shakespeare. I wanted to lay to rest all the allegations that Shakespeare didn't write his own plays.

I knew what I wanted to say in the rest of it and it was nailing down the lost seven years between him leaving school and turning up in London as a fledgling playwright - that's what I wanted to do and that's what I did.

It was first performed at the Jersey Opera House "We had a lovely ongoing relationship with them, they'd taken both my previous pieces, Nelson and Spitfire Solo, both of which have also been at The Courtyard.

Because Gavin was unable to be there, that Jersey opening emphasised just how solitary a one-man show can be.

"It's a completely different discipline to everything. Sometimes my wife and son can come with me, but generally I drive to the gig alone, set up alone and I might have a bit of contact with the audience or a bit of contact with the technicians, but that's it," says Nick, adding that what led to him entering the world of solo performance was a bet! "I met Guy Masterson (an award-winning solo performer) in Edinburgh in 2010 when we took The Six-Sided Man (inspired by Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man) up there, and I was in the bar complimenting him on his production of Under Milk Wood. He asked me what my solo show was and I said I didn't have one - 'you must do one', he said 'if you come in on Wednesday with an idea and a title I'll buy you a malt whiskey'. Not being faint-hearted I rose to the challenge and the result was Spitfire Solo, inspired by Geoffrey Wellum, who had written a pretty graphic memoir of the Battle of Britain, but re-worked when the BBC dramatised it. So I thought that what I could do was create a fictional fighter pilot and run his family life as a separate time line and jump backwards and forwards. And that's where I started."

Spitfire Solo was followed by Nelson, "My son encouraged me to write that because he's hugely interested in the Napoleonic wars," and now, Your Bard, with another show, Oysters - about Brahms - in development for next year.

"I like the challenge of taking on a different discipline," says Nick, reflecting on the contrasting experience of being in panto. "That's whay my whole career has been about. I started in rep, did some stuff at the RSC, done some bits of TV, little bits i film and bits of radio.

"But panto is in my blood. I started going to panto when I was four or five in Sheffield. It's not so much about the glitter and sparkle as it is about how panto engages an audience. I just love the way panto is such a great leveller."