Come backstage and meet the artistic team behind the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Bryony Shanahan, Artistic Director

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Bryony Shanahan is the joint Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. She won the Genesis Future Directors award and directed Trade at the Young Vic in 2016.

Directing credits include: Enough (Traverse Theatre), Queens of the Coal Age (Royal Exchange Theatre and New Vic Theatre), Chicken Soup (Sheffield Crucible Theatre), Operation Crucible (Finborough Theatre/Sheffield Crucible Theatre/59E59 Theaters, New York), Weald (Finborough Theatre in association with the Royal Exchange Theatre), Bitch Boxer (Soho Theatre/Adelaide Fringe/UK tour), Boys Will Be Boys (National Theatre), You and Me (Greenwich Theatre) and Nothing (Royal Exchange Theatre), winner of the Youth Panel Award at the Manchester Theatre Awards 2017. Bryony trained at East 15 Acting School and the National Studio Director’s course and was the BBC Theatre Fellow in 2014 at the Royal Exchange. As an associate director she has worked in The West End, The National Theatre and internationally.

Roy Alexander Weise, Artistic Director

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Roy Alexander Weise is the joint Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, Associate Artist at the Donmar Warehouse and a tutor at Open Door. His work in theatre includes MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS, NINE NIGHT (also in the West End) and DEAD DON’T FLOSS at the National; BLACK DICK (staged reading) at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center; LUMINOSITY at Manchester Met; THE TRICK at Bush and on UK tour; THE DARK for FUEL at Ovalhouse and Bristol Tobacco Factory; BR’ER COTTON at Theatre503; JEKYLL AND HYDE at the National Youth Theatre; HERETIC VOICES at the Arcola; THE UGLY ONE for Buckland at the Park; THE MOUNTAINTOP at the Young Vic and UK Tour; PRIMETIME at the Royal Court; and STONE FACE at the Finborough. Roy Alexander Weise is the 19th annual winner of the James Menzies-Kitchin Award. He has previously worked as a trainee director at the Royal Court, been the BBC Theatre Fellow at Bush and the Lyric Hammersmith, Associate Artist at Harts Theatre Company, Lead Acting Tutor at Young & Talented and Associate Director at The Red Room.

Stephen Freeman, Executive Director

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Stephen joined the Royal Exchange in January 2019. Stephen began his career in the arts at Stafford Borough Council before taking up the role of Producer for Stafford Festival Shakespeare. He developed the festival’s flagship open-air production into one of the region’s most significant cultural events. Alongside this and his position at Arts Council England, his other roles have included Artistic Programme Manager for the Gatehouse Theatre, General Manager at the New Wolsey Theatre and Festival Director for PULSE Fringe Festival. In 2016 he joined Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre as Chief Executive. Stephen is a Trustee at Theatre by The Lake, Keswick. 

Maxine Peake, Associate Artist


Playing the title role in our 2014 production of HAMLET, Maxine has previously performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre in MISS JULIE, THE CHILDREN'S HOUR and RUTHERFORD & SON. For HAMLET, she was reunited with Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom following the huge success of THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY for the Manchester International Festival 2013. Her many TV credits include SILK, THE VILLAGE (for which she was BAFTA nominated), RED RIDING and SEE NO EVIL. Maxine was also BAFTA nominated for her performance in HANCOCK AND JOAN.

Chris Thorpe, Associate Artist


Writer and performer Chris Thorpe is a founder member of Unlimited Theatre and a member of Third Angel, a company fuelled by original and contemporary performance. Chris’ play for the Royal Exchange, THERE HAS POSSIBLY BEEN AN INCIDENT, was selected for the Berlin Stuckemarkt 2014. Other recent work includes I WISH I WAS LONELY, a collaboration with poet Hannah Jane Walker, HANNAH for Unicorn Theatre, Third Angel's WHAT I HEARD ABOUT THE WORLD, and CONFIRMATION, a collaboration with Rachel Chavkin. He plays guitar in Lucy Ellinson's #TORYCORE.

Amanda Dalton, Associate Artist

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Amanda is a writer, theatre-maker and facilitator with a strong track record in bringing artists, audiences and communities together through innovative theatre projects. Until summer 2017, she was the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Director of Engagement, leading and developing our creative learning and participation work over 18 years. Her original plays and adaptations for the Exchange include SECRET HEART, DOG BOY, STRAWGIRL, POWDER MONKEY and, most recently, the award winning NOTHING which she created with and for the theatre’s Young Company. As a poet, she has published two pamphlets and two collections with Bloodaxe Books (HOW TO DISAPPEAR and STRAY). She writes extensively for BBC Radio 4, and for BBC Radio 3 she has made radical re-visionings of the silent films THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI and NOSFERATU. She is also a Visiting Teaching Fellow in the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. 

RashDash, Associate Artists

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RASHDASH is Abbi Greenland, Becky Wilkie and Helen Goalen. We are a company of performers, musicians and makers. We work with music, dance and theatre because we believe this can speak to an audience in the most rich, delicious, complex way. We make radical, often feminist work, that speaks to the feeling body as well as the thinking brain. Recent projects include THE DARKEST CORNERS (a large scale, outdoor, headphone show for Transform Festival 2017), TWO MAN SHOW (made with Northern Stage and Soho Theatre, Fringe First Winner 2016), SNOW WHITE & ROSE RED (a Christmas show for Cambridge Junction in 2015 and Battersea Arts Centre in 2017), WE WANT YOU TO WATCH (by RashDash and Alice Birch, National Theatre and UK Tour, 2015).