Associate Artistic Director Matthew Xia and Associate Artists Benji Reid, Chris Thorpe and Maxine Peake!

We're delighted to welcome to the Royal Exchange Theatre - MATTHEW XIA as Associate Artistic Director and BENJI REID as Associate Artist.

Award-winning theatre director, composer, journalist, broadcaster and DJ, Matthew Xia was last year's recipient of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme bursary and took up the post as Director in Residence at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres. Here he directed the premiere of Daniel Matthew’s SCRAPPERS and was Associate Director of the Everyman Opening Ceremony – LIGHTS UP.

In 2013 Matthew also won the Young Vic’s Genesis Future Director award with his production of SIZWE BANZI IS DEAD, which sold out its six week run at the Young Vic and embarked on a national tour for a further six week with Eclipse Theatre.

Also known for promoting new UK talent under the pseudonym DJ Excalibah, he won 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 such as Estelle, Professor Green, Example, and Plan B.

He also covered shows for the legendary John Peel on BBC Radio 1. Excalibah performed for a global audience as headline DJ at the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

Talking about his appointment, Matthew said: “I'm thrilled to be joining the Royal Exchange Theatre as Associate Artistic Director. Manchester is an inspirational world city with a rich, diverse history and exciting future. The conversations I've had with Sarah indicate that the theatre is embracing change, testing and redefining its relationship with a truly dynamic city, its artists and its audiences. The RET is both a global platform and local hub to share stories which investigate and celebrate the breadth of human experience - I look forward to making it my home.”

Benji Reid

The Royal Exchange has also appointed Benji Reid as an Associate Artist.

Benji is an award-winning visual theatre director, who has been the recipient of the NESTA dreamtime award and runner up for Art 05 award and currently the recipient of The Welcome Trust award. He formally trained in classical /contemporary dance, lighting design and choreography at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Benji Reid is one of the Pioneers of the hip-hop theatre movement in the UK.

Benji has worked widely with companies and artists such as the David Glass Ensemble, Trestle Theatre, Theatr Clwyd and Black Mime Theatre. He recently directed HOAX MY LONELY HEART (presented by Pippa Frith in association with the Royal Exchange) which was seen in The Studio at the Exchange recently.

Talking about his appointment, Benji said “I would like to thank Sarah Frankcom for having the vision to appoint me as an Associate Artist at the Royal Exchange. I look forward to developing this unique relationship with the building, This role also offers me the time and space to invest in my craft - working with some of the best minds and artists in the industry.”

He joins two other recently - appointed Associate Artists – acclaimed actress Maxine Peake and writer and performer Chris Thorpe.

Bt8L2gQIIAAODfPChris is a founder member of Unlimited Theatre and a member of Third Angel. He has a long-running collaboration with poet Hannah Jane Walker - they are currently touring I WISH I WAS LONELY. He also works with Portuguese company Mala Voadora.

His play for the Royal Exchange, THERE HAS POSSIBLY BEEN AN INCIDENT was recently selected for the Berlin Stuckemarkt 2014 and he is currently writing for the Royal Court, Royal Exchange and Unicorn. Other recent work includes HANNAH for Unicorn Theatre and Third Angel's WHAT I HEARD ABOUT THE WORLD. His new show CONFIRMATION is a collaboration with Rachel Chavkin. He plays guitar in Lucy Ellinson's #TORYCORE.

MaxinePeakeAs well as playing the title role in our Autumn/Winter 2014 Season opener - HAMLET - Maxine Peake has also performed at the Royal Exchange in MISS JULIE, THE CHILDREN'S HOUR and RUTHERFORD & SON. For HAMLET, she will be 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 recently BAFTA nominated), RED RIDING and Myra Hindley in SEE NO EVIL. She was also BAFTA nominated for her performance in HANCOCK AND JOAN.

Maxine said: “I am so honoured to be part of this building’s future for a little while, especially in this climate of savage cuts when more than ever we need to support our wonderful regional theatres. I feel no need to compete with London - more than ever local people need a voice and a creative outlet in these extreme times and I feel the Exchange has a huge role to play in that."