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Royal Exchange 2015 Preview

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
Iím a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. My debut poetry pamphlet is available at
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Waiting in the wings
A Russian classic, Uganda, a ghost train and a teenage adventure are amongst the line up for the Royal Exchange's newly announced spring, summer season, 2015.

Meanwhile, the theatre's sell out production of Hamlet is set to hit the big screen.
Royal Exchange Manchester
Inside the Royal Exchange

1) Anna Karenina, 19 March - 2 May

Leo Tolstoy's nineteenth century novel about a love affair in St Petersburg has been adapted for the stage by Jo Clifford. It will be directed by Ellen McDougall, who was nominated for an Olivier award in 2010. Anna Karenina will be a co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse. The play will transfer to Leeds on 13th May.

2) The Rolling Stone, 21 April - 1 May (studio)

Ellen McDougall will also direct her Anna Karenina actors in the world premiere of Chris Urch's play. The Rolling Stone was a winner of the the Royal Exchange's Bruntwood Prize in 2013. It follows the story of Dembe and Sam, a gay couple in Uganda, where the consequences of being discovered will be violent and explosive.

3) The Ghost Train, 14 May - 20 June

A remote railway station and a phantom train are the spooky ingredients in Arnold Ridley's chiller. The production is presented in association with acclaimed theatre company Told by an Idiot.

4) Yen, 18 February - 7 March (studio)

Anna Jordan's play is another 2013 Bruntwood prize winner. It focuses on teenagers Hench and Bobbie whose lives consist of Playstation, watching porn and occasional visits from their mum. When a girl called Jenny knocks on their door, the boys discover a world far beyond the one they know.

5) Brink, 26 March - 28 March (studio)

The Royal Exchange Young Company will collaborate with poet, novelist and playwright, Jackie Kay, in a play which asks "When you are so close to the edge - do you take the plunge or retreat?"

Jackie Kay's drama about a lost property office, Manchester Lines, was performed by the Library Theatre Company in an office block, in 2012.

6) Manchester International Festival, 3 July - 1 August

A new piece of theatre will be the Royal Exchange's contribution to MIF15. Further details will be announced in the new year. At the 2013 festival Maxine Peake performed Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Masque of Anarchy in a candlelit Albert Hall. The restored Wesleyan chapel is yards away from the scene of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, which inspired Shelley to write his poem.

In addition to new plays, the theatre will launch Open Exchange in spring 2015, to encourage and develop the next generation of artists and theatre makers.

Artistic Director, Sarah Frankcom, 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."
Maxine Peake Hamlet Royal Exchange
Maxine Peake as Hamlet. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

Sarah Frankcom directed Hamlet at the Royal Exchange, which finished its extended run in October. The production, which starred Maxine Peake, an Associate Artist at the Royal Exchange, will be shown at approximately 200 UK cinemas in March 2015.

The film version is directed by Margaret Williams and produced by Anne Beresford of MJW Productions Ltd. It was filmed during the closing three evening performances, at the Exchange, and will be distributed by Picturehouse Entertainment.

The Royal Exchange Theatre was founded in 1976 and is based in Manchester's former cotton exchange. The building's main theatre is in-the-round and seats 750 people. It has high, stained glass domed ceilings

In addition to the theatre and studio there is a cafe, bars, mezzanine gallery and craft shop.
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Why? New theatre
When: February - August 2015
Phone: 0161 833 9833
Where: Royal Exchange, Manchester
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