This September the Royal Exchange Theatre celebrates 40 years of a remarkable exchange with its audiences. Since 1976 the Company has produced unforgettable drama made for a unique theatre in Manchester’s city centre. In 2016 the theatre was named Regional Theatre of the Year, and under the artistic leadership of Sarah Frankcom the Exchange looks towards a dynamic future. This summer Mark Dobson joins as the new Executive Director and a new brand identity marks the next stage for the theatre. An impassioned team of directors, designers, outstanding writers and formidable performers will deliver an ambitious mix of provocative theatre and new plays for an incredibly special year.

  • Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom and Associate Artist Maxine Peake continue their long-term collaboration as they explore the dark world of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ unsettling drama A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE from 8 Sept – 15 Oct in The Theatre.


  • Katherine Soper’s 2015 Bruntwood Prize winning play WISH LIST explores life at the bottom of the pile and the helpless uncertainty of zero-hours contracts. A collaboration with the Royal Court Theatre WISH LIST is directed by Exchange Associate Artistic Director Matthew Xia from 24 Sept – 15 Oct in The Studio.


  • A global festival of theatre and debate B!RTH takes place from 19 – 22 Oct. Seven new plays by seven female writers from across the world have been commissioned to provoke challenging debate. Developed with The Oglesby Charitable Trust and supported by the University of Manchester B!RTH is part of Manchester’s year as European City of Science.


  • The dazzling mind of logician Alan Turing is explored in the city where he worked and died. Robert Hastie directs BAFTA winner Daniel Rigby in a major revival of Hugh Whitemore’s BREAKING THE CODE from 28 Oct – 19 Nov in The Theatre.


  • Derek Bond returns to the Exchange this Christmas (following his smash-hit LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) with full-scale musical SWEET CHARITY. This Broadway classic, filled with huge musical hits (Big Spender, Rhythm of Life) and incredible dance numbers choreographed by Aletta Collins, runs from 3 Dec – 21 Jan.


  • With accessibility at its heart the Exchange team up with Graeae Theatre Company for Jenny Sealey’s production of THE HOUSE OF BERNADA ALBA with a central performance from the incredible Kathryn Hunter. This translation of Federico García Lorca’s heated tale of family fragility sees Jo Clifford make a welcome return to the theatre and runs from 2 – 25 Feb 2017.


  • After talking to 1,580 people YOU, THE AUDIENCE continues with a celebratory event that shares both what audiences have said and what the theater has learnt. The YOU, THE AUDIENCE Manifesto will be launched in the Great Hall on 18 Nov shaping the theatre’s future with audiences.
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    OPEN EXCHANGE moves into its second year with 600 members signed up to this ever-growing scheme. Artists from across the North are invited to use the theatre as a networking opportunity, to develop new ideas and to share work. This years supported artists are Mighty Heart Theatre and Testament. 
  • Original theatre makers from across the UK present work in the Studio. This season we are joined by Rachel Mars, Action Hero, Soho Theatre & Francesca Moody, Barrel Organ with Lulu Racza, Puppet State Theatre Company, Daniel Bye, Cardboard Citizens and Project O.

Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom said:

This season I cannot wait to get back into a rehearsal room with Maxine Peake as we explore the complexities of Blanche DuBois in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Tennessee Williams paints beautiful characters but his plays also explode the notion of what theatre can be which is so exciting for our space. I’m thrilled to welcome Rob Hastie to the Exchange with his interpretation of a Manchester story in BREAKING THE CODE. Our seven new commissions for B!RTH have already started an international debate about inequality in healthcare and at Christmas SWEET CHARITY will push the boundaries of our physical space as we bring Broadway to Manchester.  In our first co-production with Graeae, THE HOUSE OF BERNADA ALBA, we create theatre in-the-round which is innovative in its accessibility, The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has unearthed some phenomenal voices and continues to be an invaluable platform for new playwrights to reflect the modern world, in our Studio Matthew Xia directs Katherine Soper’s debut play WISH LIST our 2015 Bruntwood Prize winner.

This season we continue to grow Open Exchange for emerging artists, we launch a new membership scheme and reinvent our volunteering programme so our audiences can be more involved. Our Young and Elders Companies continue to inspire us and the work we do in communities across Manchester is expanding as we cement relationships and develop new partnerships. 

We look forward to welcoming everyone to the Royal Exchange this season.

Mark Dobson, the Exchange’s new Executive Director added:
I'm thrilled to be joining the Exchange at such a dynamic time in its development. The energy and vibrancy of the programme of work, both on and off the stage, is creating a momentum that is captivating audiences and is demonstrated through our many growing partnerships. Friends and supporters are the backbone of the theatre and today we launch a new membership scheme which offers even more exciting ways to get involved. This season we strengthen relationships with the Royal Court and Graeae and B!RTH develops our significant partnership with Bruntwood and creates new opportunities for work with the University of Manchester.  We are also sincerely grateful to the talented team at Cheetham Bell who have created a new logo which captures our ambitions for the future. Here’s to the next forty years of the Royal Exchange in Manchester. 


Listen to our AUDIO BROCHURE below, download a LARGE PRINT version of our brochure HERE or come and see Box Office for a BRAILLE BROCHURE