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Royal Exchange Theatre Announce New Season

This season three incredible directors make their Royal Exchange Theatre debuts in a season of brand-new productions of outstanding contemporary plays and enduring classics. Two incredible plays, that have both shocked and entertained audiences across the generations, sit alongside a regional premiere and a world premiere in this Spring/Summer offering for Manchester audiences. Classic plays are retold by directors with fresh perspectives, examining the continuing relevance of these important pieces of writing for audiences today while original new drama highlights how powerful playwriting is when scrutinising our world today.

Built by teams of innovative theatre artists, four extraordinary productions will take to the stage this Spring/Summer in the Royal Exchange’s unique theatre.


By Phoebe Eclair-Powell

Directed by Atri Banerjee

Winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2019

9 February - 2 March 2024

Director Atri Banerjee said...

“I first read SHED: EXPLODED VIEW as an anonymous submission for the Bruntwood Prize back in 2019 — it totally shattered me then. Coming back to it four years later, after the pandemic and several global crises, it’s grown in stature and in its capacity to break your heart. SHED confronts some of the darkest aspects of humanity with honesty, courage and grace; and, in doing so, not only tears apart our understanding of reality, but our understanding of theatre itself.”

Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s (FURY - Soho, DORIAN - Reading Rep, REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD - Paines Plough) stunning new play was the 2019 winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. A devastating and delicately woven piece about violence, love and loss. SHED: EXPLODED VIEW reunites award-winning director Atri Banerjee (THE GLASS MENAGERIE - Royal Exchange, JULIUS CAESAR - RSC, KES - Bolton Octagon/Theatre by the Lake) with Eclair-Powell following their collaboration on the Bush’s hit production of Eclair-Powell’s HARM, which they also made into a film for BBC Arts shown on BBC Four. SHED: EXPLODED VIEW has its World Premiere here at the Exchange from 9 February to 2 March.

Three couples. Thirty years. Mothers and daughters. Lovers, partners, husbands and wives. Babies, teenagers, birthdays, holidays, honeymoons, terrorist attacks, fireworks, near-misses, rain. This is a play about all of it. The smallest tremble. A smashed glass. The ripping apart of space and time. An explosion.

Writer Phoebe Eclair-Powell added…

‘I feel really lucky to get to dust it off and put it on with this brilliant team and to hopefully bring something startling to the stage. And with the world on an ever more violent trajectory it feels like it still has something important to say. I am truly grateful to get the chance to say it.”


By Shelagh Delaney

Directed by Emma Baggott

15 March – 13 April

Director Emma Baggott (WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISASSOCIA, Theatre Royal Stratford East / SOCIAL CARE WORKER’S PLAY, Almeida) makes her Royal Exchange debut with Shelagh Delaney’s iconic play. This sharply observed portrait of working-class life in Salford in the late 1950s was a daring piece of theatre, not only for its gritty realism and honesty, but also for placing two resilient women at the centre of the drama. Delaney’s astute character observations have stood the test of time, and A TASTE OF HONEY remains an urgent and powerful play for the 21st Century. Running from 15 March to 13 April this is a stunning portrayal of the intricate relationship between a mother and daughter who, despite their sharp bickering, are both holding on for that Taste of Honey.

Director Emma Baggott commented...

“I am delighted to be directing the RET forthcoming production of A Taste of Honey. It was one of the first texts I studied as a teenager and has long lived in my head and heart. I have always been inspired by Delaney’s radical and courageous decision to place working class women at the centre of her drama and not as subordinate to the interests of male characters.”

Helen has done it again, another fly-by-night flit dragging Jo from one Salford flat to another, only this time she has out done herself giving her daughter panoramic views of the slaughterhouse. But Jo can feel her Mum’s restlessness, another man will appear and lure her away and Jo will be left to fend for herself, so when Jimmie offers to stay for Christmas Jo is swept up in his charm and the promise of escape - no matter how precarious that may be.

SWEAT By Lynn Nottage

Directed by Jade Lewis

26 April – 25 May

Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer-Prize winning drama SWEAT, directed by Jade Lewis (QUATER LIFE CRISIS, The Bridge Theatre / SLEEPOVA, Bush Theatre), who also makes her Royal Exchange debut this season, is a sweeping state-of-the-nation play that embraces huge political and economic ideas in a magnificent gritty social drama – and is a perfect match for Manchester’s industrial, unionised roots. Nottage’s stunning writing pits friend against friend as social and racial tensions, once buried by a sense of solidarity, soon rise to the surface in this breathtaking drama. The production runs in the theatre from 26 April to 25 May.

Tracey and Cynthia are best friends, and after 20 years on the factory floor their friendship is ingrained with the sweat of shared manual labour. Together, in this small Pennsylvanian town, they have celebrated birthdays, stood firm for each other and laughed until they cried. But as fat-cat factory owners look for cheaper options, where unions are no trouble and employees will work for less, these women are about to have the rug pulled out from under everything they know.

Director Jade Lewis said...

"I feel really honoured and excited to bring Lynn Nottage's SWEAT to Manchester. SWEAT gives a voice to the people, highlighting lives, dreams and experiences of the ordinary person with such nuance and complexity."


By Oscar Wilde

Directed by Josh Roche

14 June – 20 July

Oscar Wilde’s legendary comedy THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is brought into the contemporary world. Today, just as in Wilde’s time, self image is a work of art. The photos on our feeds are carefully curated versions of ourselves, our personalities split between private and public. We are all dandies now. Directed by multi-award wining director Josh Roche (MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE Young Vic (JMK Award Winner / IT’S A MOTHER FUCKING PLEASURE, Soho Theatre (Untapped Award Winner) / HOME, Chichester Festival Theatre). This timeless tale of identity, opulence and sharp-tongued wit follows the lives of the rich and ridiculous, all looking for something to do, someone to love and somewhere to belong. This brilliantly fun, age-defying comedy is perfect for summer and runs from 14 June to 20 July.

For Jack and Algernon, being young and rich isn’t easy. In fact, being swathed in luxury is, well...depressing. Tired of the never-ending soirees and penthouse shindigs, they escape their anxious existence (and Lady Bracknell) in the pursuit of love, real love, like, proper adult, IRL love, all under the guise of the ever-enigmatic Ernest. But love isn’t as easy as it seems. After all, Cecily and Gwendolyn have standards, not to mention a peculiar passion for the name Ernest…

Director Josh Roche said;

“Bringing any of Oscar Wilde’s plays to the Royal Exchange in 2024 is a privilege. He is a writer who constantly balances empathy with satire, reminding us how ridiculous we are, while also understanding our need to feel profound. Wilde’s society of 1893 is disturbingly similar to our own. However, what’s particularly exciting about bringing Earnest into the Royal Exchange is how well this modern space suits this classic play - a uniquely social, free and dynamic theatre for a timeless comedy of profound triviality.”

The Royal Exchange makes theatre as affordable and accessible as possible with Season Tickets - that’s 4 shows starting at £69.75, Pay What You Can tickets available on every show, Under 30s and the Exchange's legendary Banquette Seats for £10.


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