WE may still be watching the glowing embers of 2017 dying out before the New Year bursts into life, but we already have a pretty good picture of how Scottish theatre is going to shape up in 2018. The coming year is, typically for live drama in Scotland, one of considerable change.

The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) brings us the first programme by its new artistic director, Jackie Wylie. Meanwhile the Citizens Theatre Company in Glasgow relocates to Tramway in the spring, as the great Gorbals playhouse undergoes a two-year, £19.4 million redevelopment.

January tends to be somewhat quiet in Caledonia's theatreland. As the final "it's behind yous" ring out from the last of the country's pantomimes, Scotland's exhausted playhouses take a well-earned breather.

That said, even January offers theatre-lovers something to look forward to. As ever, the first-footer of the theatre year is Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum, which opens its 2018 account with The Lover (January 20-February 3).

Created by choreographer Fleur Darkin and theatre-maker Jemima Levick, it is a stage adaptation, in dance and theatre, of Marguerite Duras's famous novel about illicit love in the French colony of Indochina. Typically of Lyceum artistic director David Greig, it is an exciting and intriguing piece of programming.

Over on the west coast, the Citizens begins its theatre year with a production of Rona Munro's Bold Girls (January 24-February 10). First staged in 1991, it is a celebration of the women of Belfast at a time when the Good Friday Agreement was still seven long years away.

Glasgow-based physical theatre specialists Company Of Wolves present their one-man contemplation of the ancient Greek myth of Achilles at both the Citizens Theatre (January 23-27) and the Traverse, Edinburgh (January 30). The Edinburgh performance is part of the fascinating and diverse programme of the Manipulate festival of visual theatre and animation (January 27-February 3: manipulatefestival.org).

Lu Kemp, artistic director of Perth Theatre (which recently reopened after its massive, four-year redevelopment), sets her stall out promisingly with productions of Scots dramatist David Harrower's 1995 play Knives In Hens (February 1-17) and Shakespeare's Richard III (March 17-31). The Harrower revival is particularly exciting.

Knives In Hens is a beautiful, sparsely poetic drama which centres on the intellectual and sexual awakening of a young peasant woman through her relationship with an educated miller in a pre-industrial society. It is, for my money, one of the two or three best dramas ever written by a Scottish playwright.

Also in February, Borders-based company Firebrand tours excellent Irish writer Frank McGuinness's one-woman play The Match Box (February 1-24). Meanwhile, Glasgow's Tron Theatre teams up with Fire Exit to present David Leddy's latest play The Last Bordello (Tron and Traverse, Edinburgh, February 10-24). The companies are setting the bar high, suggesting that the drama will be "the bastard child of Margaret Atwood and David Lynch".

In March, appropriately enough, Dundee Rep offers the stage musical version of Frank Wedekind's classic, Spring Awakening (March 22-24). The Rep's artistic director Andrew Panton will direct a large cast, including student actors from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in the multiple award-winning work by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik.

Wylie's inaugural NTS programme continues the national company's fruitful tradition of co-productions. Eddie And The Slumber Sisters (touring April to June) for example, is made in collaboration with leading Scottish children's theatre company Catherine Wheels. The bringing together of Eddie (a bereaved little girl) with the imaginary Slumber Sisters (a musical trio who help her cope with her grief), it promises to be a touching and inventive drama for children.

Other new plays include Frances Poet's Gut (Traverse and Tron, April 20-May 19), Martin McCormick's Ma, Pa And The Little Mouths (Tron and Traverse, May 3-19) and The Reason I Jump, a major, outdoor, site-specific piece based upon the book by leading Japanese author Naoki Higoshida (the Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow, Glasgow in June).

Wylie's passion for new and devised theatre continues with considerable NTS involvement in the Take Me Somewhere festival in Glasgow during the spring. The NTS will be on the Edinburgh Fringe in August, too. The programme will include new works Nous/Us, written by Davey Anderson, Linda McLean and Philippe Ducros and My Left Right Foot, created by Robert Softley Gale

However, in the midst of this frenetic activity, the highlight of the NTS programme is, arguably, Cyrano de Bergerac (touring September 1-November 10). Edwin Morgan's Scottified version of Rostand's classic of French literature is directed for the Citizens company, the Royal Lyceum and the NTS by the Citz's acclaimed director Dominic Hill.

All of this is before one even mentions the summer season at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, whose new director will take charge of a 2018 programme that includes the blockbuster musical Chicago (various dates, May 25-October 13). Indeed, we can still look forward to the announcements of the programmes of the extraordinary Edinburgh International Children's Festival (May 23-June 3) and the Edinburgh Festivals in August.

There are those who will remind us that the chill winds of an economically illiterate and morally unjustifiable austerity continue to blow, from Westminster, via Holyrood, and into Scotland's arts organisations. True though this is, our theatre artists continue to give us reasons to be very cheerful indeed.