Friday, 7 November 2014

After Hamlet at the Royal Exchange Manchester?

RIDING high on the record breaking success of Maxine Peak's HAMLET – the company’s fastest selling show in a decade - and a big jump in the total number of people seeing its shows, audiences remain at the heart of the newly-announced Spring Summer 2015 Season at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.   

Audience numbers are up year on year by more than 46,000, with people experiencing Royal Exchange produced work across the UK as well as in Manchester, at festivals and other venues including Latitude, the Edinburgh Fringe, Shakespeare’s Globe, Theatertreffen in Berlin and community venues in the North West.   

YOU, THE AUDIENCE - the Exchange’s year-long audience collaborative adventure which began this season - weaves through the programme for Spring Summer 2015. An epic conversation and a celebration of audiences, it explores the special relationship between the work that is made and the people it is made for.  

The company is currently gathering a remarkable collection of opinions and ideas from some of the 2,000 people who helped to kick-start the project at the recent Fun Palace Open Day. The Spring Summer Season’s events will include a weekend of outdoor theatre and A NIGHT AT THE THEATRE, a giant sleepover in the module and the Great Hall.  

Launching in Spring 2015, OPEN EXCHANGE will offer a series of attachments, master-classes and other development opportunities as part of the Exchange’s commitment to the next generation of artists and theatre makers.

Artists will have the chance to explore, play and collaborate with mentoring and support from professional teams and access to new rehearsal spaces.    

The new season is the second under the leadership of Sarah Frankcom as the theatre’s sole Artistic Director and is a mix of classics reinvented by the next generation of theatre-makers and world premieres for emerging voices.

She said: “I am really excited about the wide range of new work, artists, collaborations and conversations we will share with audiences in 2015  as we reinvent what our theatre is, and what it might be.”  

The season includes a co-production of a classic adaptation directed by rising star Ellen McDougall; a much loved play re-worked by returning favourites Told by an Idiot; first outings for two Bruntwood Prize winners, a collaboration with the Manchester International Festival 2015 and a Royal Exchange Young Company collaboration with poet and novelist, Jackie Kay.   

The season launches with Olivier-nominated Ellen McDougall directing Jo Clifford’s stripped-back, contemporary adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel ANNA KARENINA – a Royal Exchange Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse co-production.   

This is the Exchange’s second collaboration with WYP following the huge success of SWEENEY TODD in Autumn 2013. ANNA KARENINA runs in The Theatre from Thursday 19 March to Saturday 2 May 2015 and transfers to Leeds on Wednesday 13 May.   

Anna is the envy of St. Petersburg society. Glamorous and admired, but locked in a loveless marriage, her sudden and passionate love affair with Count Vronsky turns her world on its head and puts at risk everything she has ever known.   

Olivier-nominated director Ellen McDougall makes her Royal Exchange debut with this stripped-back and contemporary version of one of the greatest novels ever written.   

She received an Olivier nomination for her 2010 production of IVAN AND THE DOGS (ATC, Soho, UK tour and Rustaveli Theatre, Georgia). Other recent credits include TELLING TALES (Almeida); PHILOCTETES (Unicorn) SHOWS 1 and 2 (Secret Theatre) for Lyric Theatre Hammersmith; SPRING AWAKENING and IDOMENEUS (Gate Theatre) and NOT NOW BERNARD (Unicorn Theatre and touring).   

Playing alongside ANNA KARENINA, 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting winner THE ROLLING STONE by Chris Urch receives its world premiere in The Theatre from Tuesday 21 April to Friday 1 May 2015.   

Also directed by Ellen McDougall – and with the same company of actors - it tells a very different story of lovers at odds with society.

Dembe and Sam have been seeing each other for a while. They should be wondering where this is going and when to introduce each other to their families. But they’re gay and this is Uganda and the consequences of being discovered will be violent and explosive.   

The season continues with a blisteringly funny reboot for Arnold Ridley’s THE GHOST TRAIN which runs in The Theatre from Thursday 14 May to Saturday 20 June 2015.   

The production is presented in association with the internationally acclaimed theatre company Told by an Idiot (previous Royal Exchange credits include YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU and TOO CLEVER BY HALF) who bring their trademark wit, flare and theatrical invention to this classic ghost story.   

The production is presented in association with the internationally acclaimed theatre company Told by an Idiot (previous Royal Exchange credits include YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU and TOO CLEVER BY HALF) who bring their trademark wit, flare and theatrical invention to this the classic ghost story.    

A group of passengers are left stranded at a remote railway station, facing the prospect of a night in the waiting room. But when the old stationmaster warns them about the phantom train that haunts the tracks after dark, the evening starts to take one chilling turn after another.   

Told by an Idiot Artistic Director Paul Hunter, who directs the production, said: "THE GHOST TRAIN is not normally the kind of play that would be produced in the round. The challenge of staging action that would normally happen off stage and of using every inch of that extraordinary space will be really thrilling."   

2013 Bruntwood Prize Winner YEN by Anna Jordan – which plays in The Studio from Wednesday 18 February to Saturday 7 March – explores a childhood lived without boundaries and the consequences of being forced to grow up on your own.   

It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Hench and thirteen-year-old Bobbie who live alone with their dog Taliban, playing Playstation, watching porn; surviving. Occasionally their chaotic mum Maggie visits, sometimes she passes out on the front lawn. But when Jenny knocks on the door, the boys discover a world far beyond what they know, a world full of love, possibility and danger.   

Anna Jordan’s play was commended for its ‘beautiful empathy, and a humanity which stood out to all the judges’ by Chair of the Judges, Dame Jenni Murray.  

The production is directed by Ned Bennett. Previously a resident trainee director at the Royal Court, his recent credits include SUPERIOR DONUTS (Southwark Playhouse), MERCURY FUR (Old Red Lion) and PIGEONS (Royal Court schools tour).   

The new season will also see the Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester International Festival collaborate on a new piece of theatre for MIF15. It will be staged in The Theatre from Friday 3 July to Saturday 1 August 2015. It follows on from the acclaimed MIF / RET co-production of THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY - a highlight of MIF13. Further details will be announced in the New Year.   

A full Spring Summer programme in The Studio is also yet to be announced but a major highlight will be BRINK - a Royal Exchange Young Company collaboration with poet and novelist, Jackie Kay.  

Presented by the Young Company and directed by the Royal Exchange’s Associate Artistic Director Matthew Xia, the show will run in The Studio from Thursday 26 March to Saturday 28 March 2015 and asks lots of question such as “What brings you to the brink in your life?” and “When you are so close to the edge - do you take the plunge or retreat?”   

Public Booking for the new season opens on Monday 24 November 2014.   

For further information, please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager) on 0161 615 6783 /

The Royal Exchange Theatre presents: 

By Anna Jordan

World Premiere

Directed by Ned Bennett

The Studio

Wednesday 18 February to Saturday 7 March 2015


The Royal Exchange Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse present


By Leo Tolstoy

Adapted by Jo Clifford

Directed by Ellen McDougall

The Theatre

Thursday 19 March – Saturday 2 May 2015


Royal Exchange Theatre presents


By Chris Urch

World Premiere

Directed by Ellen McDougall

The Theatre

Tuesday 21 April to Friday 1 May 2015


Told by an Idiot and the Royal Exchange Theatre present


By Arnold Ridley

Directed by Paul Hunter

The Theatre

Thursday 14 May – Saturday 20 June 2015


Royal Exchange Theatre / 2015 Manchester International Festival Collaboration

Details to be announced

The Theatre

Friday 3 July to Saturday 1 August 2015


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