A paid opportunity for Open Exchange theatremakers


Every few months we give groups of Open Exchange theatre-makers from different disciplines the opportunity to come together and spend a week at the Exchange, sharing their ideas and practice, exploring a stimulus and creating work. It's a chance to build new relationships, collaborate with and learn from practitioners outside of your discipline, and work creatively in a low-pressure environment. At the end of each week there is an informal sharing, where each group can present some of the work they've created or discuss how they've spent their time and what they've learned.

"That feeling that you've got a week just to play, we really felt this place was our home and we were extremely welcomed here"
REACT group, July 2015



Using The Royal Exchange's Great Hall and its complex and conflicted history as inspiration, the focus of this REACT is to explore a site specific response to the building.

The Great Hall has been many things to many people. Now housing the largest purpose built theatre-in-the-round in the UK, it was once the epicentre of the cotton industry in Lancashire, where raw cotton, spun yarn and finished goods were traded around the world. In the 18th century this industry was an important part of the slave trade, in which African slaves were transported to America where the cotton was grown and then exported to Liverpool and Manchester for trade. The first exchange opened in 1729.

Other interesting facts:

  • It was once called 'the biggest room in the world'.
  • It was once a Men Only space.
  • In 1940, during WWII, it took a direct hit from a bomb during a German Air Raid.
  • In 1996 it was hit by an IRA bomb planted 50 yards away in Corporation Street.
  • In 1973 it became home to The Royal Exchange Theatre.

Please read these for more details about THE GREAT HALL...



We are especially interested in artists of different disciplines collaborating to respond to this provocation, and all teams must consist of 2 or more Network members. You can provide other collaborators from outside the Network.

We are interested in artists sharing from each other's practice – the outcome of the week is learning-focussed, we are not expecting groups to create fully-realised performances.

If interested in applying for this React we strongly encourage you to visit the Great Hall.

"I've been applying for a lot of stuff lately and the general response is 'oh you don't have a track record in theatre'. I felt like if I applied for this, I wasn't going to get that response. How do you get a track record without being given the opportunity in the first place?"
REACT July 2015


• A fee for each group
• Rehearsal space for one week at the Exchange, 12-16 October 2015
• Some technical support and advice (PLEASE NOTE – as this is a site-specific response, there is no opportunity to experiment with lighting within the Great Hall)

To apply for this opportunity, please send us:

- a short proposal (no more than 300 words) about your idea. You don't need to know the outcome of the idea but tell us what you hope to achieve or discover.

- A short introduction to your group (no more than 300 words). Who you are and why you want to work together. Please include a collective name for your group.

You can email these to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or alternatively you can apply by sending a video to the same address.

All shortlisted groups will be invited to come to the theatre for a discussion of your idea.

If you think you may have difficulty with the application process please contact Davinia and we will try and assist you.


Matthew Xia will be on the Mezzanine in the Great Hall on Friday 11th September, 5:30-7pm, with a table full of wine and crisps, for anyone who would like to meet some fellow Open Exchange members and ask any questions about REACT.

If you can't make the 11th you're welcome to send us a couple of sentences about yourself and the types of artist you're seeking we'll include a Collaborators Wanted section in the next Newsletter.