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

Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director


Joining the Royal Exchange Theatre as Literary Manager in 2000, Sarah Frankcom has been an Artistic Director since 2008. With Royal Exchange Theatre credits including Three Birds, Orpheus Descending, Miss Julie, Beautiful Thing, A View from the Bridge, Punk Rock, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Kes, Sarah’s career has also seen her working with the Lyric Hammersmith, the Crucible Theatre, the National Theatre and the Young Vic, amongst many others.

Matthew Xia, Associate Artistic Director


An award-winning theatre director, composer, journalist, broadcaster and DJ, Matthew joined the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2014. Matthew received the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme bursary in 2013, taking up the post of Director in Residence at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres. Matthew’s theatre credits include SCRAPPERS and the Young Vic’s sell-out production of SIZWE BANZI IS DEAD, for which he won the Young Vic’s Genesis Future Director award.

Known for promoting new UK talent under the pseudonym DJ Excalibah, Matthew won the Best Radio Show and Best Radio Presenter awards in the hip-hop press for his BBC 1Xtra show, TALES FROM THE LEGEND in 2003, 2004 and 2005 - giving initial airplay to artists including Estelle, Professor Green, Example, and Plan B. Excalibah performed for a global audience as headline DJ at the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

Amit Sharma, Associate Artistic Director


Amit has been Graeae’s Associate Director since 2011, and is a graduate from Graeae’s Missing Piece actor training course. His work has included traditional building-based performance and largescale outdoor events including PROMETHEUS AWAKES (La Fura dels Baus / co-commissioned by Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and Stockton International Riverside Festival), marking the first large-scale outdoor production to be artistically led by Deaf and disabled people in the UK. Most recently, Amit directed Jack Thorne’s new play THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER (Graeae Theatre Company /Theatre Royal Plymouth).

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.

Benji Reid, Associate Artist


An award-winning visual theatre director, Benji was formally trained in classical and contemporary dance, lighting design and choreography at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. He is one of the Pioneers of the hip-hop theatre movement in the UK.

Having worked with companies and artists including the David Glass Ensemble, Trestle Theatre, Theatr Clwyd and Black Mime Theatre, Benji recently directed HOAX MY LONELY HEART for The Studio, presented by Pippa Frith in association with the Royal Exchange Theatre.