...we are delighted to launch our Autumn/Winter 2014 Season with Maxine Peake starring as HAMLET

As well as Maxine Peake starring in the title role of Shakespeare’s HAMLET, the season also includes new productions of the Tennessee Williams' classic CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, the hit musical comedy THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and the world premiere of Rona Munro’s gripping new play SCUTTLERS about gangs in nineteenth century Manchester.

Shakespeare’s most iconic play explodes with big ideas.

HAMLET, opens our Autumn/Winter season from Thursday 11 September - Saturday 18 October 2014.

Recently BAFTA nominated for her performance in THE VILLAGE, Maxine Peake takes the title role in this bold re-imagining of the ultimate play about loyalty, love, betrayal, murder and madness.

Maxine will also be joining the Company as an Associate Artist this autumn. Her new role will draw on her considerable talents as one of the nation’s best-loved actors and also as a writer. It will include opportunities for her to get involved in the theatre’s pioneering work with community groups and young people - and work with young actors from across the city.

For HAMLET she is reunited with Royal Exchange Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom, following the huge success of THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY performed as part of the Manchester International Festival 2013.

Sarah said: “Maxine started her acting career in our youth theatre. Her performances have thrilled our audiences and the Royal Exchange is her local theatre. HAMLET is a massively exciting challenge for any actor and director. I am certain Maxine will be a compelling and extraordinary Hamlet for our time.”

HAMLET is followed by a new production of Tennessee William’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.

Presented by the Royal Exchange Theatre in a co-production with Royal and Derngate, Northampton and Northern Stage, the production runs from Thursday 30 October to Saturday 29 November 2014.

Brimming with emotional intensity, Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play is fuelled by drinking, desire and deceit.

James Dacre – Artistic Director at the Royal and Derngate Theatre - returns to the Royal Exchange to direct the production, following the sell-out success of THE ACCRINGTON PALS at the Exchange in 2013. Original music has been created by MOJO and Q Award winning band, White Lies.

He said: "It’s incredibly exciting that Royal and Derngate are collaborating for the first time with The Royal Exchange. And for my part I’m looking forward to working again with many of the team who staged THE ACCRINGTON PALS.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF was written on the eve of the sexual and civil rights revolution and is one of America’s greatest plays. The Royal Exchange – as intimate and as grand as the story itself – is the perfect location for this incendiary masterpiece.”

The season continues with a fresh new Christmas production of hit musical comedy LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.

With a book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken and based on the film by Roger Corman with a screenplay by Charles Griffith, this charming, kooky and hilarious 1950s musical is one of the longest running off-Broadway shows of all time. It runs in the Theatre from Friday 5 December 2014 to Saturday 24 January 2015.

The story centres on down and out florist’s assistant Seymour who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a macabre craving.

The production is directed by rising star Derek Bond. His recent theatre credits include SHIVER (Watford Palace Theatre, 2014); LOST IN YONKERS (Watford Palace Theatre, 2012) and FLOYD COLLINS (Peter Huntley Productions, Southwark Playhouse. Time Out Critics’ Choice, Winner: Best Musical Production (Off West End Awards 2013).

The season concludes with the world premiere of SCUTTLERSRona Munro’s new play which runs from Thursday 5 February to Saturday 7 March 2015.

It tells the story of the Scuttlers who were Manchester’s original gangs. Throughout the 1870s and beyond, the streets of Openshaw, Gorton, Ancoats and Salford were terrorised by rival groups of young mill workers fighting for control. With their bell-bottoms and floppy caps they fought with blades, fists, feet and the heavy ends of their leather belts.

SCUTTLERS is a thrilling and alarming story of young people trying to navigate a life without respect; where their parents have let them down, homelessness is inevitable, and where a sense of place and purpose can only be found on the streets.

SCUTTLERS is a brilliant, bloody play about the amazing energy of young people. Based on real court reports, it’s timeless and timely with themes that resonate with remarkable clarity 150 years on.

The production is directed by Wils Wilson. Her recent work includes PRAXIS MAKES PERFECT (National Theatre Wales), which was a gig/theatre event created with electro-pop duo Neon Neon (Best Director, Welsh Theatre Critics Awards); GASTRONAUTS (Royal Court), which fed its audience a tasty and theatrically provocative meal; ANON, a new opera from Errollyn Wallen (WNO); THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART (National Theatre of Scotland) which has been touring bars and pubs nationally and internationally since 2010 - winner of a Herald Angel and CATS Award.

Rona Munro has written extensively for stage, radio, film and television including the trilogy THE JAMES PLAYS for the National Theatre of Scotland, The National Theatre of Great Britain and the Edinburgh International Festival. Her theatrical adaptation of Mrs Gaskill's novel, MARY BARTON was produced at the Royal Exchange in 2006.

Full details of the new season in The Studio at the Royal Exchange will be announced soon but a highlight will be the world premiere of CROCODILES by Lee Mattinson from Tuesday 30 September to Saturday 18 October.

The drama of this startling new play finds Cornelia busy knitting a world for herself in a sleepy seaside town. Punch and Judy are playing by the pier, witches are being burnt in the town centre, and crocodiles are lurking in the shadows.

The production is directed by Ng Choon Ping and was the winner of the inaugural Royal Exchange Hodgkiss Award, which celebrates the unique collaboration between a writer and director.

Priority Booking is now open to purchase a Season Ticket.

And we expect the hugely anticipated HAMLET to be extremely popular so we strongly recommend taking advantage of the priority booking period to book your seats for this show. (Public booking will open in early May).

To purchase a Season Ticket, please download and complete the Booking Form, or please call Season Booking line on 0161 832 0943.