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The Royal Exchange Theatre is delighted to announce the appointment of Roy Alexander Weise and Bryony Shanahan as their new joint Artistic Directors. 

RET Leadership Team L R Roy Alexander Weise Artistic Director Steve Freeman Executive Director Bryony Shanahan Artistic Director Image Lee Baxter 800px

Bryony and Roy will join Executive Director Stephen Freeman to complete the leadership team for this award-winning theatre. Together they will assume the role of Chief Executive.

Roy Alexander Weise has made waves in the theatre industry across the UK, from winning the prestigious James Menzies-Kitchin Award to directing smash-hits for the National Theatre, the Young Vic and in the West End. He is currently Associate Artist at the Donmar Warehouse. Bryony moves into the Artistic Directorship from her current role as the Exchange’s Associate Artistic Director which has seen her direct work across all of their stages and become a dynamic artistic leader within the organisation. She also has a vibrant freelance career, including winning the 2016 Genesis Future Directors Award at The Young Vic and directing work nationally and internationally. They take up their joint Artistic Directorship in November 2019.

Executive Director Steve Freeman said;
Both Bryony and Roy are extraordinary talents who together presented an original and exciting vision for the future of our theatre. They are innovative creative thinkers and inspiring theatre makers with a drive to deliver theatre with the broadest possible reach. As joint Artistic Directors they bring a fresh and invigorating approach to shaping the future of regional theatre, together with the wider team at the Royal Exchange they will reimagine what it means for a producing building to place artists and audiences firmly at the heart of everything we do. I cannot wait to start working with them.

Bryony is an award-winning director and theatre maker and her work for the Exchange includes QUEENS OF THE COAL AGE, a brand-new version of WUTHERING HEIGHTS for 2020 and NOTHING, winner of a Manchester Theatre Award. As a freelance director, hit productions have included trade (Young Vic), CHICKEN SOUP (Sheffield Crucible), BITCH BOXER (UK/International) and OPERATION CRUCIBLE (Sheffield Crucible & 59e59 NYC). She has worked at venues such as The National Theatre, New Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Theatre Royal Plymouth, SoHo Theatre and in the West End. Her latest show ENOUGH will premiere at The Traverse Theatre in August. Roy joins the Royal Exchange following his hugely successful productions NINE NIGHT (National Theatre & West End), THE MOUNTAINTOP (Young Vic & UK Tour) and BR'ER COTTON (Theatre 503). As a freelance director he has worked at venues including The Royal Court, the Bush, Fuel Theatre, Nuffield Southampton, Bristol Tobacco Factory, Birmingham REP and the Arcola. Alongside the Donmar he is also Associate Artist at Harts Theatre company and Young & Talented School of Stage & Screen. His forthcoming productions include MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS at the National Theatre, SUCKER PUNCH at Theatre Royal Stratford East and SOPHOCLES' ANTIGONE: THE BURIAL AT THEBES at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Roy and Bryony said of their joint appointment…
We are excited, in so many ways – to be working with each other and with Steve, to become part of the Exchange’s evolution, and to make work with and for the people of Manchester. The Exchange is an extraordinary theatre, and under Sarah Frankcom’s leadership it’s been transformed. She has reimagined the relationship that artists and audiences have with this theatre, championed their voices and celebrated the democracy that the Exchange’s unique space allows. We are really looking forward to building on that dynamic, using it to shape the new work we make and to inform our relationships with communities across Greater Manchester going forwards.

Bryony continued;
Having direct and long-lasting relationships with audiences and artists, for me, is at the core of what we want to do as Artistic Directors. Every project we programme and every artist we commission has to be about having a wider aim, creating a bigger story and building an inspiring legacy. Sharing our stories is so important, especially today, it’s a way for us to challenge, provoke and discuss and an important opportunity to bring communities together. These ideas feel fundamental to me and Roy and will help to shape our work in the future.

Roy added…
It’s so important to ask if our work reflects and represents the audiences we want to encourage into the building. Leading this extraordinary theatre with Bryony is hugely significant, changing the way leadership looks and behaves means that our theatres really can be for anyone. What our country needs so badly is a reignited and reinvigorated sense of community; we want our audiences to be the start of that. They are my ultimate boss. As Artistic Directors we want to give back the opportunities we had so that everyone has access to amazing stories and extraordinary life-defining theatre experiences.

Roy and Bryony will take over the leadership of the Royal Exchange Theatre from Sarah Frankcom from the 1 November 2019.

Sarah Frankcom said of the new appointment;
My tenure has been about championing next generation artists so I’m absolutely thrilled that Roy and Bryony will now shape and lead the Royal Exchange. They are
exceptional artists who make visceral and transformative theatre. I know them both to be the most passionate of collaborators and truly authentic and inspiring leaders. This is a brilliant appointment not only for the future of the Royal Exchange but for the future of theatre in Manchester and beyond.

Neil Darlison, Director, Theatre at Arts Council England comments…
This is an exciting new joint-appointment at the Royal Exchange; both Roy and Bryony are hugely talented artists and, with Stephen Freeman, will make a formidable leadership team to take the Royal Exchange into the next decade. I am very much looking forward to the next chapter at the Theatre.

Ben Caldwell, the Chair of the Royal Exchange’s Board concluded…
Bryony and Roy are a fantastic addition to the Royal Exchange and will make outstanding artistic leaders. They have a genuine commitment to making great work for everyone and bring with them a distinct understanding of the theatre landscape across the UK. Their approach to making theatre is vibrant and ambitious and I am delighted that they will be the Artistic Directors of our future.