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Exchange appoints new young artistic director team

Published: 8 July 2019
Reporter: David Chadderton

Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre has announced that Roy Alexander Weise and Bryony Shanahan will take up the posts of joint Artistic Directors from 1 November 2019, joining Executive Director Stephen Freeman to complete the leadership team.

The Manchester theatre had always had a team of Artistic Directors at its helm from its inception in 1976 until 2014, when Greg Hersov stepped down to leave Sarah Frankcom as its first sole Artistic Director. Frankcom announced earlier this year that she would be leaving to take over as director of the London drama school LAMDA.

The new directors have both won newcomer awards in the last few years: Weise was the 19th annual winner of the James Menzies-Kitchin Award in 2016 and was nominated for the Emerging Talent prize at the 2018 Evening Standard Awards, whereas Shanahan won the Genesis Future Directors award in 2016. Shanahan is currently an Associate Artistic Director of the theatre; she directed Queens of the Coal Age there in 2018 and is scheduled to direct Wuthering Heights in 2020. Weise is currently Associate Artist at the Donmar Warehouse and directed Katori Hall's The Mountaintop at the Young Vic in 2016.

Freeman said of the appointment, "both Bryony and Roy are extraordinary talents who together presented an original and exciting vision for the future of our theatre. They are innovative creative thinkers and inspiring theatre-makers with a drive to deliver theatre with the broadest possible reach. As joint Artistic Directors, they bring a fresh and invigorating approach to shaping the future of regional theatre. Together with the wider team at the Royal Exchange, they will reimagine what it means for a producing building to place artists and audiences firmly at the heart of everything we do."

Frankcom added, "my tenure has been about championing next generation artists so I’m absolutely thrilled that Roy and Bryony will now shape and lead the Royal Exchange. They are exceptional artists who make visceral and transformative theatre. I know them both to be the most passionate of collaborators and truly authentic and inspiring leaders. This is a brilliant appointment not only for the future of the Royal Exchange but for the future of theatre in Manchester and beyond."