The Royal Exchange Theatre have released their Spring/Summer season which will be focusing on the complexities that make up a 21st century city. Rivalry, community and family will all be explored within their chosen productions, as they consider the impact of the city entity on the individual and vice versa. The Royal Exchange has always been committed to bringing high level, varied and daring performances to Manchester and this season looks set to be no different.
Youth and diversity: Barber Shop Chronicles
One day. Six cities. A thousand stories. For many years barber shops have been a place of refuge for African men. Not just somewhere for a trim, a place for confession, camaraderie and conversation. Inua Ellam’s heart-warming and insightful play toured around the world in 2017 and met considerable admiration. Co-commissioned by Fuel and the National Theatre, this play is part of their commitment towards growing a younger and more diverse theatre nation-wide. Ellam’s play hops between barber shops in Peckham, Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra, peering into the private lives and discussions of men across the globe. From huge political questions to bickering football debates, Barber Shop Chronicles is a humorous and honest consideration of masculinity and identity on stage.
Thu 7 Mar – Sat 23 Mar, www.royalexchange.co.uk
Musical theatre: West Side Story
Possibly the most infamous exploration of community rivalries within one of the greatest cities of all; West Side Story stands out as a highlight within the 2019 line-up. Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom, who has been involved with many brilliant projects at the theatre such as Sweet Charity and Guys and Dolls, returns to direct a new version of this critically acclaimed classic. West Side Story is infamous for its Romeo and Juliet meets 1950s New York narrative, interwoven with iconic choreography by Jerome Robbins and music by Bernstein, that includes Maria, America, Somewhere and Tonight. The ‘all-American’ Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks fight for ownership of territory whilst, despite everything, love blossoms within their opposing ranks. A story of passion amidst chaos, romance amidst violence, this continues to be one of the most powerful and relevant musical dramas of our time. With choreography reimagined for the round by Aletta Collins and orchestrated by Bernstein specialist Jason Carr, this production promises to reignite this timeless classic.
Sat 6 Apr – Sat 25 May, www.royalexchange.co.uk
Re-imagined classic: Hobson’s Choice
Tanika Gupta transports this Harold Brighthouse classic to 1980s Salford amid the Ugandan-Asian rag trade. Her rewrite still considers the difficult relationship between an over-bearing father and a talented daughter who must rebel to really be free. Tailor Hari Hobson spends his time bossing his daughters around his workshop or ranting about the wrongs of the world in his local pub. When he decides his oldest daughter, Durga, is too valuable to lose to a husband, he decides she will never marry. Refusing to be controlled by her father, Durga takes fate into her own hands and opens a shop nearby. Familial rivalry, generational dispute and youthful ambition, this is a tale that never gets old.
Fri 31 May – Sat 6 Jul, www.royalexchange.co.uk
Industrial revolution: There is a Light That Never Goes Out
James Yeatman’s new play brings to light the work of the Luddites; rebellious workers from the Industrial Revolution era who refused to be beaten down by those in charge. Whilst the Industrial Revolution brought money, power and significance to cities such as Manchester, not everyone chose to follow blindly into the glistening future it promised. Workers in factories and mills across the nation broke the machines they felt threatened by, and these workers were called the Luddites. Enemies of progress or protectors of the people? Yeatman’s play considers how their misunderstood protests helped inspire the radical, political landscape of Manchester, and how their arguments continue to be relevant today.
Thu 25 Jul – Sat 10 Aug, www.royalexchange.co.uk
Members can book tickets now, booking opens for the public 20 Nov, 10am.
Published on: Tue 13 Nov 2018