The Spring/Summer 2017 season marks the second half of the Exchange’s 40th anniversary year in which the Company takes inspiration from its own beginnings. 

In 1976, during a time of huge social and political upheaval, from the advent of Punk and the uncompromising activism of art, a radical group of theatre makers reclaimed Manchester’s vast, empty cotton trading hall and built a theatre like no other in the UK. Inspired by the origins of Greek theatre they created a uniquely democratic performance space, an intimate theatre-in-the-round where audiences and actors enter and exit through the same doors. Inside they reinvented classics and imagined bold new dramas that would ‘bring light into darker times’.
The Royal Exchange teams up with Actors Touring Company and Royal Lyceum Edinburgh to remake for Manchester David Greig and Ramin Gray’s five-star production – Aeschylus’ THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN. One of the world’s first plays, its startling contemporary significance shines through in this critically acclaimed co-production which runs from 10 March – 1 April.
Director Jo Davies, whose credits include the smash-hits CAROUSEL and KISS ME KATE for Opera North, makes her Royal Exchange debut with Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT. This intoxicating comedy unpicks issues of gender, identity, and love, and will fill the Exchange with musical madness and wild, unruly laughter from 13 April – 20 May.
Award-winning director Liz Stevenson returns to the Exchange to direct Alan Harris’ HOW MY LIGHT IS SPENT, winner of the Judges Award in the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015. An uplifting, wonderfully weird play about loneliness and hope, the show is a co-production with Sherman Theatre and Theatre by the Lake and runs in the Studio from 24 April – 13 May.
Jeff James, one of the UK’s most original, young theatre makers, whose work has included LA MUSICA at the Young Vic, adapts and directs the World Premiere of PERSUASION, a bold retelling of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. PERSUASION runs in the theatre from 25 May – 24 June without a bonnet in sight.

FATHERLAND co-created by Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham, Karl Hyde of Underworld and playwright Simon Stephens is a vivid, urgent and deeply personal portrait of 21st Century England at the crossroads of past, present and future. This Royal Exchange co-commission, with Manchester International Festival, Frantic Assembly, Lyric Hammersmith and LIFT, runs in the theatre from 1 – 15 July.
On 20 February the theatre shares its findings from YOU, THE AUDIENCE, its radical conversation with audience members, in a symposium event. This symposium is for people who make theatre, write about theatre and study theatre; it’s for people who work with audiences and people who are audiences. Speakers include writer Maddy Costa and Slung Low’s Alan Lane.
Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom said …

‘Theatre is uniquely placed to react quickly to what is happening in the world and to share that in a live way. At the Exchange our unique theatre creates an intimacy that can be electrifying, the actors and audience interrogate the action together, becoming participants in the exchange of a story rather than simply performer and spectator. This season I’m delighted to share the work of some of the UK’s most original and inventive theatre-makers who’ll reshape some of our best loved texts and breathe life into brand-new plays. Going to the theatre is a great night out but it can also be a place for collective reflection. Because of that maybe theatre is more important than ever before.’


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