The Royal Exchange Theatre announces 2017 Spring/Summer Season

The Royal Exchange Theatre announces 2017 Spring/Summer Season 

The Spring/Summer 2017 season marks the second half of the Exchange’s 40th anniversary year in which the Company takes inspiration from its own beginnings.

In 1976, during a time of huge social and political upheaval, from the advent of Punk and the uncompromising activism of art, a radical group of theatre makers reclaimed Manchester’s vast, empty cotton trading hall and built a theatre like no other in the UK.

Inspired by the origins of Greek theatre they created a uniquely democratic performance space, an intimate theatre-in-the-round where audiences and actors enter and exit through the same doors.

Inside they reinvented classics and imagined bold new dramas that would ‘bring light into darker times’.

• The Royal Exchange teams up with Actors Touring Company and Royal Lyceum Edinburgh to remake for Manchester David Greig and Ramin Gray’s five-star production – Aeschylus’ THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN. One of the world’s first plays, its startling contemporary significance shines through in this critically acclaimed co-production which runs from 10 March – 1 April.

• Director Jo Davies, whose credits include the smash-hits CAROUSEL and KISS ME KATE for Opera North, makes her Royal Exchange debut with Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT. This intoxicating comedy unpicks issues of gender, identity, and love, and will fill the Exchange with musical madness and wild, unruly laughter from 13 April – 20 May.

• Award-winning director Liz Stevenson returns to the Exchange to direct Alan Harris’ HOW MY LIGHT IS SPENT, winner of the Judges Award in the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015. An uplifting, wonderfully weird play about loneliness and hope, the show is a co-production with Sherman Theatre and Theatre by the Lake and runs in the Studio from 24 April – 13 May.

• Jeff James, one of the UK’s most original, young theatre makers, whose work has included LA MUSICA at the Young Vic, adapts and directs the World Premiere of PERSUASION, a bold retelling of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. PERSUASION runs in the theatre from 25 May – 24 June without a bonnet in sight.

• FATHERLAND co-created by Frantic Assembly’s Scott GrahamKarl Hyde of Underworld and playwright Simon Stephens is a vivid, urgent and deeply personal portrait of 21st Century England at the crossroads of past, present and future. This Royal Exchange co-commission, with Manchester International Festival, Frantic Assembly, Lyric Hammersmith and LIFT, runs in the theatre from 1 – 15 July.

• On 20 February the theatre shares its findings from YOU, THE AUDIENCE, its radical conversation with audience members, in a symposium event. This symposium is for people who make theatre, write about theatre and study theatre; it’s for people who work with audiences and people who are audiences. Speakers include writer Maddy Costa and Slung Low’s Alan Lane.

Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom said … 

‘Theatre is uniquely placed to react quickly to what is happening in the world and to share that in a live way. At the Exchange our unique theatre creates an intimacy that can be electrifying, the actors and audience interrogate the action together, becoming participants in the exchange of a story rather than simply performer and spectator. This season I’m delighted to share the work of some of the UK’s most original and inventive theatre-makers who’ll reshape some of our best loved texts and breathe life into brand-new plays. Going to the theatre is a great night out but it can also be a place for collective reflection. Because of that maybe theatre is more important than ever before.’

For more information on the 2017 Spring/Summer Season, please Click Here.



Actors Touring Company and Royal Exchange Theatre production in association with Royal Lyceum Edinburgh


By Aeschylus in a new version by David Greig

Directed by Ramin Gray; Composer John Browne; 

Choreographer Sasha Milavic Davies

10 March – 1 April

The season opens with an extraordinary theatrical event THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN.

Written by Aeschylus 2,500 years ago, it is one of the world’s oldest plays, yet its contemporary resonance is astounding in this new adaptation by multi award-wining writer David Greig and director Ramin Gray.

At the heart of the play sits a chorus of fifty young women, recruited from across greater Manchester, they argue for their lives and speak to us through the ages with startling resonance for our time.

The production opens at the Royal Exchange on the 10 March and runs until 1 April. 

Fifty women leave everything behind to board a boat in North Africa and flee across the Mediterranean.

They are escaping forced marriage in their homeland, hoping for protection and assistance, seeking asylum in Greece. 

David Greig is The Royal Lyceum’s Artistic Director as well as an acclaimed and award-winning playwright. His plays have been performed across the UK, as well as produced and toured around the world. Plays include THE LORAX (The Old Vic); THE EVENTS (Traverse, Scotland and Young Vic); THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART (Tron, National Theatre of Scotland); MIDSUMMER (Traverse, Soho, and Tricycle); DUNSINANE (RSC at Hampstead and National Theatre of Scotland); and the book for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY THE MUSICAL, which opened in the West End in 2013.

Ramin Gray returns to the Royal Exchange following his role as a Judge on the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. He has worked in many of the UK’s most notable theatres, including the Liverpool Playhouse, Royal Shakespeare Company and Hampstead Theatre. He is a passionate advocate of new plays, having directed over fifteen world or British premieres – including Simon Stephens’ Motortown and Mark Ravenhill’s Over There – at the Royal Court, where he was International Associate before becoming Associate Director. He has directed all of ATC’s productions since 2011.

Actors Touring Company makes international, contemporary theatre that travels. They create shows with a global perspective: activating and entertaining the audience whilst asking questions of the world around them. Placing the actor at the heart of the work, and employing a lean aesthetic which promotes environmental sustainability, they have toured the UK and internationally since they were founded in 1980, reaching audiences far and wide. Recent productions include: THE EVENTS by David Greig, with music by John Browne, which has toured extensively in the UK, the US and internationally, and enjoyed revivals in Denmark, France and Australia; THE GOLDEN DRAGON by Roland SCHIMMELFENNIG (Traverse & UK tour) and MARTYR by Marius Von Mayerburg (coproduction with Unicorn Theatre and UK touring).

For more information, and to register for ticket updates, please Click Here.

The Royal Exchange Theatre present


By William Shakespeare

Directed by Jo Davies

13 April – 20 May

A comedy about who we are and who we choose to be makes TWELFTH NIGHT a glorious, wild and unruly exploration of identity, relationships and loneliness.

Directed by Jo Davies, who makes her Royal Exchange Theatre debut, this is a comedy with remarkable wit and energy but also a darker more elusive side which questions gender politics and ideas of belonging. The play runs from 13 April – 20 May.

Washed up on the shores of Illyria after a ship-wreck, Viola hides her true identity by disguising herself as a man.

Finding a job – and love – at the court of Duke Orsino, Viola becomes muddled in mistaken identities when her disguise begins to cause more problems than it solves. 

Jo Davies has worked as a director at the ENO, the Royal Opera House, the Royal National Theatre, the Barbican, in London’s West End and on Broadway. Jo has also mounted operas, plays and musicals worldwide, most recently in the US, France, and Italy. Her credits include DON CARLO (Grange Park Opera); KISS ME, KATE (Opera North – Winner ‘Best Musical’ at Manchester CityLife Awards 2015); THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (Opera North- Nominated Best Opera at the 2016 Manchester Theatre Awards); THE ROARING GIRL (RSC); SILLY KINGS (National Theatre Wales); CAROUSEL (Barbican, Chatelet Paris, Opera North).

For more information, and to register for ticket updates, please Click Here.

The Royal Exchange Theatre presents the World Premiere of 


By Jane Austen

Adapted by Jeff James with James Yeatman

Directed by Jeff James

25 May – 24 June

Director Jeff James has worked regularly with the Young Vic, most recently on his production of LA MUSICA, and extensively as Associate Director with international and multi award-winning director Ivo van Hove.

This spring he creates a bold adaptation of Jane Austen’s final novel, PERSUASION, for the Royal Exchange, in collaboration with dramaturg James Yeatman.

An emotionally powerful love story for grown-ups, James’ contemporary production of Austen’s beautifully crafted novel discards the bonnets, revealing how startlingly relevant Austen’s story remains today. This World Premiere runs from 25 May – 24 June.

When Captain Wentworth proposed to Anne eight years ago, he had only love and ambition to offer. Talked out of accepting his proposal by her family, Anne’s never quite got over her first love.

But now Wentworth is back. Rich, successful and single, the handsome Captain has been transformed into a serious catch. When circumstances bring the two face to face again, Anne Elliot is forced to confront the past.

As old wounds reopen, will Wentworth’s resentment keep him away, and will Anne finally decide what she really wants? 

Jeff James’ directing credits include LA MUSICA (The Young Vic) STINK FOOT (The Yard), and ONE FOR THE ROAD & VICTORIA STATION (Young Vic and the Print Room). James was Associate Director on Ivo van Hove’s English language productions, including A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (London, Paris, Broadway & Los Angeles), HEDDA GABLER (National Theatre), LAZARUS by David Bowie and Enda Walsh (New York & London), and THE CRUCIBLE (Broadway).

Commissioned and produced by the Royal Exchange, Manchester International Festival, Frantic Assembly, Lyric Hammersmith and LIFT. Supported by PRS for Music Foundation.

For more information, and to register for ticket updates, please Click Here.


Co-created by Scott Graham, Karl Hyde and Simon Stephens

1 – 15 July

FATHERLAND is a bold new theatre show created by Scott Graham from Frantic Assembly, Underworld’s Karl Hyde and playwright Simon Stephens, focusing on contemporary fatherhood in all its complexities and contradictions.

Inspired by conversations with fathers and sons from the trio’s home towns in the heart of the country, FATHERLAND is a survey of life in England’s towns today.

The show will transform the familiar spaces of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, with a cast of 13 men and a remarkable, all-embracing musical score by Karl Hyde and Matthew Herbert.

The show explores identity, nationality, masculinity –and what it means to belong in a world weighed down by the expectations of others.

Tender and tough, honest and true, FATHERLAND is a vital and necessary show about what we were, who we are and what we’d like to become. The production runs from 1 – 15 July as part of Manchester International Festival.

For more information, and to register for ticket updates, please Click Here.


Royal Exchange Theatre, Sherman Theatre and Theatre by the Lake present the 

World Premiere of 


By Alan Harris

Directed by Liz Stevenson

24 April – 13 May

The World Premiere of Alan Harris’ HOW MY LIGHT IS SPENT is presented in the Studio this spring. Winner of the Judges Award in the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting this beautifully uplifting play, set in a small town in Wales, explores the curious relationship between Jimmy and Kitty and the joy of finding someone who might just really ‘see’ you. Directed by the award-winning Liz Stevenson the production, which runs from 24 April – 13 May, is a collaboration with Theatre by the Lake and Sherman Theatre.

Every Wednesday evening, Jimmy calls Kitty. For precisely nine minutes. At £1.20 a minute. Jimmy is 34, lives with his mum and works at Newport’s only drive-through doughnut restaurant. Kitty is an adult chat line operator, living in the granny flat of a topiary enthusiast.

Things were looking up for Jimmy when he met Kitty for the first time, but then he loses his job and starts to feel a strange tingling in his fingers.

Kitty’s not a psychologist yet, but she has some theories about why Jimmy has started to disappear.

With Kitty’s advice and Jimmy trying to reconcile himself to eventual invisibility, this unlikely duo succeed in turning each other’s world upside down. 

Alan Harris is a Welsh playwright living and working in Cardiff, his credits include A CERTAIN DATE: HATCH, MATCH AND DISPATCH, WOLF and THE LIGHTHOUSE (BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play) MANGA SISTER (The Yard), COME TO WHERE I’M FROM (Paines Plough) A GOOD NIGHT OUT IN THE VALLEYS (National Theatre Wales) and THE JOURNEY (Welsh National Opera).

Liz Stevenson directed BARBARIANS at the Young Vic as the winner of the 2015 JMK Young Director Award. The production received much critical acclaim and was nominated for a 2016 Oliver Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. She has most recently directed BLUE STOCKINGS for ALRA North. Other directing credits include MIDNIGHT AT THE HOTEL BEAUREGARD & TOO FAST (ALRA North), THE GAP & TALKING DOWN (The Gap Theatre Launch Event, Halle St. Peters, Manchester), WE ARE THE MULTITUDE (247 Theatre Festival, Manchester). Liz has also been Assistant Director on numerous shows at Manchester Royal Exchange, Hampstead Theatre, The Gate and Menier Chocolate Factory. She is an associate at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick and is Artistic Director of Junction 8 Theatre.

A National Symposium presented in association with the University of Manchester.

For more information, and to register for ticket updates, please Click Here.


20 February 

On the 20 February the Royal Exchange shares the learning from YOU, THE AUDIENCE, the pioneering conversation with audiences which imaginatively explores and re-brokers the invisible contract between a theatre and its audiences. With speakers including Maddy Costa (Writer and

theatre critic), Alan Lane (Artistic Director, Slung Low), Sonia Hughes (Artist) and Matt Fenton (Artistic Director, Contact) the symposium opens up discussions about: collaborating with

and writing about audiences, creative approaches to sharing audience memories, and how organisations across the UK are fostering relationships based on collaboration and conversation. This symposium should challenging and inform the vision and practice of the Royal Exchange and theatres across the country. The Exchange will also launch its Audience Manifesto at this event.

For more information on the 2017 Spring/Summer Season, please Click Here.

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